Blackbird Has Spoken: Part 19
From Blackbird Has Spoken: Part 18
Murray takes Thomas captive to an abandoned air traffic control tower. When Thomas reveals he is praying for Murray, Murray rails against God, blaming him for the horrible abuse he sustained at the hand of his father.
"My old man told me I'd never amount to anything. Said the only thing I was good for was taking a beating. One day he came home with some woman and kicked my mom out of the house. I never saw or heard from her again. I despised her for being so weak and yet I missed her.
When I graduated from high school I left home and worked myself through college. Then onto medical school. When I became a doctor I went and found my old man to tell him I'd made something of myself and that all he'd accomplished was becoming an unemployed, town drunk. He took a swing at me and passed out on the floor. I never went back. I hope he dropped dead." Murray grabbed his left arm and grunted. After a moment it subsided. He pulled his bottle of water out of his backpack and guzzled again. He was short of breath again.
Linda and Cal arrived at Mercy while Thomas was in surgery. The waiting room was full of concerned friends - Dr. Wong, Chaplain Bob, April, and Elizabeth Strathem. It was a great comfort to Linda.
Dr. Lyle Whitcomb, one of Mercy's finest trauma surgeons, left the O.R. and met with them in the surgery waiting room. "The surgery went well, Mrs. Gimmler. We removed a piece of his skull to allow for swelling. He is stable at this point. Thomas is in critical condition, but the fact that he has survived thus far, and remained stable during surgery is reason for hope. " .
"But how can someone survive a gunshot to the head? It doesn't make sense," Linda said.
"It is possible but it is rare. In Thomas' case it had to do with the trajectory of the bullet. It hit only the left side missing any major blood vessels, the ventricles, or the brain stem. A bullet that goes through both sides of the brain, or hits any of those areas are fatal. The bullet also exited the skull. Another factor is the size and type of bullet and the velocity in which it was going when it hit him. A lower velocity and a smaller bullet do less damage. That's a simple answer. The brain is very complex. But that is not to say Thomas' injury isn't very serious, Mrs Gimmler, or that he is out of the woods, but we're very hopeful."
Chaplain Bob had seen and heard a lot over the years being Chaplain of a hospital, and a trauma hospital at that. He'd only seen two other cases of surviving a bullet to the head.
"So how was he able to get out of the restraints, do CPR on Murray, and run down to the highway?" Linda asked.
The doctor shook his head and looked at Linda and Chaplain Bob. "Mrs. Gimmler, there is no accounting for that. There is no way, and I mean no way with his injury, that was possible. I've seen some miraculous things from time to time and this is one such case. Some would say it's luck. Perhaps so, or maybe it was an act of God or the Spirit of the Universe, Karma, or whatever higher force you believe in. Another reason to be hopeful."
Bob smiled. "I say praise the Lord."
"Amen," said the Dr. Wong.
Dr. Whitcomb said, "Amen indeed."
While Thomas was in recovery Linda and Cal talked privately.
"Cal, I'm sorry. I see now that I need to be with Thomas. This is a wake up call. I'm sorry I've hurt you. I hope you can forgive me."
"Say no more, Linda. You need to be with Thomas. A marriage saved is most important. Thomas has a long road ahead and he'll need you. What a blessing for him you'll be by his side. I wish you both well and I have to tell you, I'm not a religious man but I do believe in God and it is obvious His hand is at work." He touched her hair. "Goodbye Linda." He turned and left.
Prayers like incense
Thomas would be in recovery for a while longer, then he would be transferred to ICU, so the group hung around in the family waiting room to support Linda. Dr. Wong happened to look up to see Ivy walk in. Everyone stopped talking for a moment wondering who she was. Only Dr. Wong and Chaplain Bob knew her personally. Chaplain Bob had brought her a Bible while she was in the hospital and they had had a few good talks. He appreciated her faith and her struggles.
She stepped in reverently. "Hello," she said. "Are you all here for Mr. Gimmler?"
Linda stepped forward. "Yes, we are. I'm Linda Gimmler, his wife. Can I help you?"
"I'm Ivy Ledbetter. I was a patient here at Mercy for awhile. I heard about Mr. Gimmler on the news and I felt compelled to come and pray for him. I hope I'm not intruding."
Linda smiled and shook Ivy's hand warmly. "Ivy, what a sweet girl you are to come. Thomas can use all the prayers he can get."
Ivy didn't know if it was appropriate to ask about his condition so she decided not to ask and see if someone would offer the information. Besides, she was there first and foremost to pray whatever his status. Elizabeth Strathem and Chaplain Bob came to greet her.
"Very nice to meet you, Ivy. I'm Elizabeth Strathem, Director of Nursing."
"Oh, hello," said Ivy, shaking her hand.
"And I'm Chaplain Bob." He gave her a cheshire cat grin and stuck out his hand.
"Ah, Chaplain Bob. Good to see you again."
Ivy spotted Dr. Wong. He had not greeted her because of privacy issues. He had been her psychiatrist which needed to remain private at his end. But Ivy didn't care.
"Oh my goodness. Dr. Wong, I can't believe it." She walked up to him, wanted to hug him tight but settled for a warm handshake.
"Hello Ivy. So good to see you. Very kind of you to come pray and support Mrs. Gimmler."
Linda cleared her throat. "Let's ditch the formalities everyone and just call me Linda. And let's all sit down."
Linda's weariness did not go unnoticed by the group. Ivy saw the worry etched in her eyes. They all sat down and the room filled with a momentary, awkward silence.
Bob broke the ice. "Since Ivy came to pray, I think we ought to join hands and pray for Thomas."
Linda interjected. "Ivy, Thomas just got out of surgery and they are hopeful but he's not out of the woods. Yes, I would love it if you could all pray. I've never given God much thought in my life, but I can see His hand in all this. Thomas told me he'd come to some sort of religious faith and I'm ashamed to say I was not very accepting or gracious about it. I was skeptical." Her bottom lip trembled. "But now I am seeing the light, and I am so grateful he is stable and for all of you coming here to support me and to pray for Thomas. He is so blessed to have such good friends."
"No worry, Mrs. Gimmler...Linda," said Dr. Wong. "I just come to faith myself. My wife too. Thomas, Chaplain Bob and I meet for breakfast to talk about Bible and pray."
Ivy's heart did a jig, marveling at God's work in the lives of everyone there.
"Shall we?" Chaplain Bob said, taking the hand of Linda on one side and Elizabeth's on the other. Ivy held Linda's other hand. It was cool and trembling a tiny bit.
"Gracious heavenly Father," Bob led out, "we are so grateful for the miracle you've wrought in Thomas' body thus far, and in his soul. Lord we marvel at your power, at your love, and your healing hand and we ask that you restore our friend to complete health. Whom have we in heaven but You, Lord? No one, there is none in heaven or on earth like You. We give you all praise and glory for Your sovereignty and your exceedingly abundant loving kindness. Thank you for each one here today Lord who has come to support Linda and pray for Thomas."
Linda squeezed Bob's hand and began to weep.
"God," Dr. Wong prayed, "thank you for our friend Thomas, that you save his soul, save his body. Thomas good man, good friend. We pray he get totally well."
The undeniable presence of the Holy Spirit filled the room. Linda continued to weep openly.
Ivy prayed on. "Oh Lord, thank You that through Your mercies we are not consumed, that your compassion never fails us. Great is Your faithfulness. You are our portion, therefore we have hope in You. Father, we come boldly before Your throne to seek your help in this time of trouble. Yes, we pray you will completely heal Mr. Gimmler. And Father, I feel grief at the end of Dr. Stricklen's life. I confess the hatred I've had for him, for hurting my friend Cloe, and me, and likely many others. I don't know if he was guilty of Cloes' death or not, but today, for some reason, I feel heaviness and sorrow that this bitter man's sad, destructive life came to an end. Only You Lord, can turn hate into love. I ask forgiveness for my hateful heart. I pray Mr. Gimmler was able to lead Dr. Stricklen to You before He died. I feel sick that he could have died in his misery and sinfulness. We cannot condemn him Lord because we all have sinned and fall short of Your glory. Thank You that Your arm is not too sort that it cannot save, that nothing is too hard for You, that Your love has no end and never wanes."
The room grew quiet but they remained holding hands waiting upon the Lord. Elizabeth began to pray.
"Wow, God. I went to Catholic school and I never heard prayer like this," she said. Bob smiled at her endearing prayer. "Thomas and I had a rocky start, Lord, if You're listening. But I saw a change in him. He grew kind and considerate. It sounds like You had something to do with that. If You can do it for him, I hope You will consider it for me. I know my resume shows a lot of whining and complaining, and I can be snarky, and the only time I pray is when I want my petty problems to go away. I forget to thank you. I feel love here. It appears it is Your love. I hope You will accept my apologies. I could use a good heart change too. And lastly, I want to thank You for Thomas. Keep up the good work on his body. And thanks again." No one was offended or entertained by Elizabeth's real and innocent prayer. It was from her heart and clearly God was working in it.
April jumped in. "God we love Mr. Gimmler. I've seen his heart turn warm and kind too. Touch him and heal him and give dear Linda strength and faith in You. Thank you that Mr. Gimmler is blessed to have such a good wife. Lord he tried to do the right thing. As his assistant I saw the struggle he had because Dr. Stricklen was his friend. I didn't like the doctor either. I wish he was here to know there is forgiveness. Comfort Linda tonight, and let her know not only our love, but most importantly, Your love."
A holy hush fell upon the room for a few moments, then the dam burst open for Linda. She could do nothing but cry and say "I'm so sorry. So sorry. Heal him Lord. Heal him please." Bob put his arm around her and whispered prayers from her friends wafted up to heaven as incense. No one doubted God was pleased and moved by its fragrance.
Linda and Bob sat silently next to Thomas' bed in ICU. The hiss and beeps of machines filled the room. Various colored wavy and jagged lines and numbers galore busied the face of the monitors; electrodes, wires, IV's, tubes and other gadgets cluttered his body, declaring Thomas' vitals and the functions of his heart, lungs and brain. Linda could not take her eyes off of her husband. She watched his chest rise and fall. She watched his closed eyes, wondering what his dreams were as he slept, or could he dream with an injured brain? Would he be able to recognize her when he woke up? Would he be happy to see her if he did? What would she be able to say after her egregious sins against him? What if his heart stopped? How would she go on?
'No,' she told herself, 'I can't go there. God has already shown Himself invested in Thomas' body and in his heart.' She must hold onto hope. She remembered the prayers of her friends. It lifted her a bit. And yet, she still needed some assurance that her recent sins against Thomas, against Cal, and against God could be forgiven. She wanted the intimacy with God that Chaplain Bob, Ivy, Dr, Wong, and April had. They were clean and she was dirty. Bob saw the turmoil in her face, discerning her spiritual struggle.
"How can I help, Linda?" he said.
"I can't talk with Thomas lying here." A nurse came in and tended to Thomas. "How's he doing?" Linda asked.
"He is doing really well, Mrs. Gimmler." She looked at Bob and read his face. "If you want to get a bite to eat or a cup of coffee I will be here for awhile," said the nurse. "We will call you right away if there is any change."
Linda was torn. "It's okay Linda," Bob said. We'll run down and get a sandwich and coffee and we can sit in the waiting room across the hall. You'll be very close." She agreed. As she got up to leave she kissed Thomas' cheek. It was so warm. Blood flow, life. She felt assured.
Linda and Bob brought their food up to the waiting room. The chicken soup lived up to it's reputation as comfort food. And the coffee was good. Linda had ingested nothing all day. She felt some energy come on.
"Bob," Linda said, "I don't know what all Thomas has told you about us, about me leaving him, but I can't stand this weight of guilt I'm carrying around. When I went to the ocean I met an old love. I was angry at Thomas for his unfaithfulness to me and I willfully went with this man, partly to get back at Thomas and partly because he treated me with such love and kindness, things Thomas has not given me in years. Our relationship was not physical. Cal is a gentleman. Bob, I lied to Cal and told him Thomas and I were divorced. I was so selfish, I didn't want anything to spoil this new relationship. When I got the phone call this morning that Thomas had been shot I told Cal the truth. He was hurt of course and said we could not continue. He didn't want to take someone else's wife, even if we were separated. He is an honorable man. He brought me here as you saw. We said our goodbyes. I am here for Thomas one hundred percent. "
I have no doubt about that, Linda," said Bob.
She looked up at him with tears. "Do you think Thomas and God can forgive me?"
"Absolutely, Linda. I already know Thomas has. And God always forgives a humble, contrite heart."
"I want what you and Ivy and Dr. Wong have. When you guys prayed it was like you knew God personally. The intimacy, so precious. I want that Bob. How do I get that? How do I get God's forgiveness? I want to be changed like Thomas has been."
Bob spoke the gospel into her life and when they got up to return to ICU, Linda was a new creation in Christ Jesus.
Shihong and God in the shower
Huan Wong arrived home early that night. They had a low bed count on the unit and it was a very intense day with all that had gone on with Thomas. He'd called Shihong when he was leaving so she had a hot meal on when he walked through the door. He kissed her cheek and sat right down at the table.
She sat down, they said the blessing and began to eat. "You quiet, Huan," she said.
"Very tired. Thomas stable when I leave. We pray for him in waiting room while he in surgery."
"After you leave for breakfast with Chaplain I take shower. God speak to me," said Shihong.
Huan stopped eating and looked at her. "Really? God spoke to you out loud, Shihong? In shower?" He smiled, slightly amused. "What He say?"
"He say out loud, 'Daughter Shihong, pray for Thomas. He in trouble.' So I pray for him."
"Did God say what kind of trouble?"
"No, just that Thomas in danger. He tell me next to pray for Dr. Stricklen."
Huan dropped his fork. "For Dr. Stricklen?"
"Yes, He say pray for Dr. Stricklen soul. I get on my knees in shower and pray and pray until water get cold. Then I stop."
Huan had not given Shihong any details that day except Thomas was shot. He'd been in a hurry, having to go to work after praying in the waiting room."
"Wo, Shihong. That amazing. Thomas shot in head. Miracle he still alive. Dr. Whitcomb said it look very hopeful. Your prayer save his life Shihong."
"God save his life, Huan. I just do what God tell me to do."
While Shihong did the dishes, Huan called Chaplain Bob and told him about Shihong's encounter with God in the shower early that morning and her prayers
"Really," Bob said. "Amazing. That would explain why Thomas was able to do all he did while having a bullet in his head. But Huan, this gives us hope about Murray. Maybe Thomas was able to lead him to Christ before he died."
"Maybe," said Huan. "We will see when Thomas wake up."
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