By Novice Jorge Zetino
“Your dad just suffered an accident, is in a coma and at risk of dying” were the words that radically changed the course of my life. Such words are like an echo that even 14 years after the accident still rumble in my ears. I have always heard of how painful it is to lose someone you love to death, but I had never experienced the agony of knowing that in any moment that person can die.
How can a 14-year-old boy comprehend that his father might not live, and if he does, he may not be “normal” again? Certainly, there are no words that can give consolation to a child living with that agony. The only thing that child can do to help his dad is to pray. And that is what I did.
I recall my grandmother saying, “Just have faith in God and ask Him to protect your dad” to which I asked, “Grandma, but how can God protect my father when he is not with him right now?” Then, she softly spoke into my ear and whispered, “Miracles do happen. You just need to believe.” I hardly remember praying before the accident and, even worst, of asking God for a miracle because deep inside of me, I did not believe in miracles.
I remember that on that cold and rainy night in October, I did what I hardly thought of doing before: praying. I knelt beside my bed. Pressing my eyelids shut as hard as I could, trying to not let any more tears come from my eyes, I started to pray.
But there was something different about this prayer than those prayers that I had said in the past. This time I did not only pray, I started a conversation with God, a God that I hardly knew before. My heart was broken in pieces. The tears could not stop showing what I was feeling inside; I was experiencing an emotion that I never felt before.
In the meantime, while praying, I kept reminding myself to pray with faith, believing that God eventually would respond to my supplication and that my dad would be able to defeat death. I have always heard that the best way to pray to God is to pray with the heart, to really mean what you are praying, and to believe and have faith in what you pray.
It took me a long time to experience that myself while I was saying “The Lord’s Prayer” over and over. Every time was different because my faith increased with each prayer, believing that God would help my father defeat death. It was then I realized that I was not only praying with my mind but also with my heart. I might have lost track of time while I was praying because I can’t recall how long I knelt. When I got up, my knees were red and in pain but not as much pain that my heart felt.
My father’s health condition was so severe that even the doctors thought that he could not survive. There seemed to be no hope. My hero now was connected to computers with cables attached all over his body and a trachea inserted into his throat. He only had himself and God; nobody else could help him to fight against Lady Death.
Days went by without news of progress. The doctors tried to push my mother to sign the order to disconnect my dad from artificial life support. My mother refused to sign such an order because she felt strongly that if Dad passed away, it was going to be God’s will and not her ending his life. It was then that I realized that my mother also had faith, just like I had it.
Two months passed and my father was still in a coma, trying to defeat Lady Death. One day, all of the sudden, he woke up from that long sleep. The only thing I remember is seeing the doctors and nurses running down the hall towards my dad’s room. They had bewildered looks on their faces. They could not believe that my father had come out of the coma. They could not believe that his fight with Lady Death was over.
He had defeated her. I am sure that the doctors did their part, providing the assistance and care that my father needed, but I am certain that what helped him most to fight death was the love and faith that many of us, including me, had in God. I realized that God had answered my prayer. From that moment on, I started to pray not only with my mind but also with my heart.
Since then, every time I pick up the phone to call my dad to wish him a Happy Father’s Day, I am grateful not only for the second chance that God has given my father and our family but also for the opportunity to continue to witness God’s healing and miraculous hand in the person of my father.