I want to tell a story I’ve told many times before. But I can’t tell it enough. It’s the story of what happens when someone with a mental illness falls into the pit of despair is lifted up by the loving faithfulness of one who cares.
December 1, 2016. I am in the Goodman exit lane off I-490 in Rochester, New York. An unusual light shines in my rearview. In seconds, I hear a loud crack and feel a tremendous lurch. Someone traveling too close, going too fast, hit me. Hard.
I called 911 and a policeman showed up, followed by an ambulance. I was taken to Strong Memorial hospital where they ran tests and found nothing conclusive. But I became increasingly agitated. I became convinced that I was paralyzed. Three doctors ran tests on me at separate times and concluded that nothing was wrong. Physically.
That’s when I called my sister, April.
April lives in Indiana, 500 miles away from that Emergency Department at Strong. It was almost midnight. But she calmly listened to me. Even when I told her I was receiving no care. Even when I told her I was contacting my lawyer to sue the hospital.
April listened. She didn’t try to convince me my confused thoughts were illogical. Instead, she advocated for me, calling the ED nurses’s station to explain to them that I was having a manic episode, that I was not on drugs, that I wasn’t like this, that I needed psychotropic meds and psychiatric care.
In time, I was transferred to a psychiatric unit. I was given medication. But it took awhile to take effect. My emotions were raw. I cried. Then laughed. Yelled. Then apologized. Cried some more. They asked me if I wanted to call anyone.
I called April.
She asked how I was doing. I bawled. Before I could get a word out, she said, “I will come, if you want me to.” I didn’t want to ask her. She has a family. A job. A home.
Again, she asked, “Do you want me to come?”
I was so overwhelmed. Now, all the emotions I had felt were absorbed into one. Gratitude.
It was nearly 6 a.m. when I got off the phone. By 6 p.m., April walked into my room carrying a Starbuck’s coffee and a bag of chocolate espresso beans.
Loving faithfulness. It’s hard to find in a world filled with unconcern. But each time it happens, it is a miracle. God working through angels to pull us out of pits, to show us hope, to shine light in the darkness.