My mother-in-law has never been known for her low-key nature. In fact, it is a rare occasion to see her at peace with all that is in her world. Yet, my first memory of her tells a tale of a woman composed, even when it seemed that so much was at stake.
It was the early spring of the year 2000. My then-boyfriend, Darrin, was taking his brother and me to the movies across the border. I don't even remember what movie we were going to see, I was just excited to be going on another 'date'.
After the show, we were feeling hungry, but between the three of us, we couldn't scrounge up enough change for more than a chicken nugget meal at the local fast food joint. Darrin ended up eating most of the chicken nuggets, but only because they'd looked so unappetizing, and his brother David and I shared what was left of the fries.
We dropped David off at their house, and then Darrin drove me home. By the time we reached my dad's house, though, Darrin wasn't feeling well. So, we called his parents to let them know that he would be staying over.
Through the night, Darrin's illness worsened, and by morning he had a terrible fever, and was shaking profusely. If ever someone looked like death, he did then. My dad decided it was time to get Darrin to the hospital, so we called his mother and told her where to meet us so that she could take him.
The drive to the nearest hospital was 40 miles and we were to meet Darrin's mother where our highway and the main highway intersected, but by the time we reached that point, he was complaining that he couldn't feel anything in his body and that he could barely move. He needed to get to the hospital quickly. My dad dropped me off at the intersection to wait for Darrin's mother, and he continued on.
Caroline was there within 5 minutes of my dad leaving, and on the way to the hospital, the two of us prayed together. She was the perfect image of calm. One would think that her son had just gotten a papercut by her demeanor. It boggled my mind.
When we arrived, they were just attempting to get Darrin on a gurney – not an easy task considering his large size and his inability to assist them. Finally they got him into the emergency room, and Caroline took the time while they were putting in an IV (it ended up taking them half an hour to find a vein) to call up the prayer chain at her church.
It seemed that everything was in the hands of God and trained professionals, so my dad and I took our leave. I was still at a loss as to how Darrin's mother could be so calm when it seemed that Darrin was dying before our very eyes.
The next morning, we got a phone call from Caroline. Darrin was back at home with her. As it turns out, Darrin had gotten food poisoning and a virus at the same time, and the two maladies had worked together and had begun to shut down all of Darrin's bodily functions. Had it been left an hour or two longer, he would have been dead.
Then she explained to me her secret. The Bible says Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. She knew that whatever happened, God would be there, and that served to assist her peace.
In the last seven years that I've known her, there have been a few more circumstances that required her to rely on that verse and God's promise, but that first instance has had an enduring effect on my own life. I hope that if ever I'm placed in the same situation ever again, that I'll maintain that very same God-fearing calm that Caroline had that day.
King James Version, Psalm 46:10
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