God is Alive!

This past Saturday, myself, my wife Julie, and our other daughter Allison, spent the day with Sam and Erin.  We continue to see improvements in Sam’s condition so it is always reassuring when we get a chance to be with them in Palo Alto.  But—the visit also seem to take a lot out of me. 

We arrived at the VA hospital around noon so we spent some time with Sam and then took Erin out to lunch.  It’s a little more difficult to be around Sam in the afternoon because he tends to be less animated and responsive.  In the morning he gets a lot of attention from the various therapist, doctors and nurses and is pretty worn out in the afternoon.  I have to keep reminding myself that Sam is improving on God’s time and not mine. 

But—being the father of the little girl who sits by Sam’s side every day and cheers him on, I get so overwhelmed with emotion and thoughts.  Why did he go back to Iraq?  Why was he in the vehicle that got hit?  Why did he get injured so badly?  Why isn’t he improving more quickly?  Does Sam have the willpower and strength to persevere and continue to improve?  Is Erin ok? Does she have the strength and faith needed to carry this burden? After a while, I have to just stop asking the questions. 

I walked out of Sam’s room into the hallway to gather my thoughts.  A few tough looking “vets” in hospital garb passed me by in the hallway.  Both looked to be around 18-19 years old.  One of them was pushing the other who was in a wheel chair.  Both of his legs were amputated at the knees.  O God…

sunrise through the treesThis morning I got up early and took a walk at a local park near my house.  There is something about walking early in the morning that enables me really get in touch with God.  I watched the sun slowly lift up over the Sierra Nevada mountains.  The clouds began to take shape and change into brilliant shades of red and orange.   I watched the colors change minute by minute as the sun rose through the trees.  A new day is dawning—God is alive!  It reminded me of the recessional song we sing in church during the Easter season every year.

“Sing your joy, proclaim God’s glory!  Rise and sing, the morning has come!  Bless our God and praise all creation;  Song of the earth, and light from heaven:  God is alive!  Alleluia!”

David Haas, GIA Publications, Inc.

Sam’s medical Status: 

Friday October 26th, 2007:  The suture that was left in Sam’s trachea after removing the trach tube was removed today.  When the evening nurse came in, she asked Sam what was the worst part of the operation.  She asked if it was removing the suture (and he signed no) then she asked if it was being anesthetized, she he signed “yes”.  Earlier Erin asked him what part of the Ellen show he likes best.  She asked if he liked the dancing at the beginning of the show, and he signed “no” (two fingers).  She then asked him if he liked the jokes the best and he signed “yes”, or one finger.  I wanted to write all of that information down to let everyone know how much he is communicating with us, even though he isn’t actually talking.

Saturday October 27th, 2007:  We spent the day with Sam and Erin.  It’s interesting how I get daily updates from Erin on Sam’s progress and feel so close to the situation but being there and experiencing Sam in person is very different.

Sunday October 28th, 2007:  Big visit from Kelley’s family today.  Grandma was happy to see Sam for the first time since his injury and she was pleased with his progress.

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6 Responses to God is Alive!

  1. Danalee says:

    Tony, what you are describing is common for caregivers. It is very important for caregivers to take care of themselves. depression, stress, fatigue, burn out, substance abuse… there are many ways ignoring your own needs during care giving is manifested. The physical, financial and emotional burdens are tremendous. Obviously, after his medical team, Erin is Sam’s primary caregiver. However, you and the rest of the family are supporting both Erin and Sam, thus qualifying as caregivers, too. Here’s a tool for you and others;

    Please answer “yes” or “no” to the following questions related to your caregiving situation:

    Do you ever find yourself trying to do it all and be responsible for all aspects of the caregiving?
    Do you experience sleep disturbances, including inability to fall asleep or stay asleep?
    Do you frequently experience aches and pains, including muscle aches, neck aches or headaches?
    Do you say to yourself “I should be able to…,” “I can never…” or other similar statements?
    Do you get frustrated about something in particular you are unable to change?
    Do you experience chronic health problems and experience low energy or exhaustion?
    Do you resist asking for and receiving assistance from others?
    Do you feel that your family has no idea what you must go through and they simply do not understand?
    Do you experience emotional outbreaks, including anxiety, depression, anger, guilt or loneliness?

    If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you are more than likely experiencing caregiver stress, which can put you at risk for caregiver burnout. You can manage caregiver stress so that it does not make you ill or interfere with your caregiving and the rest of your life. Many caregiving situations fail or caregivers become ill because they have failed to sustain the activities, interests and friendships that they love. It is critical that you have a few hours a week away from caregiving. Remember, you cannot provide quality care unless you care for yourself.

    God love and keep you all. Don’t forget to “care for the Caregiver”.

  2. Tony; you are a fine man, and you and your wonderful wife Julie have raise some awesome kids; it is normal for you to worry about Erin, but if you were to ask her if she wants to quit, you know what her answer would be. God is full of Amazing and Unending Grace, and He will take care of her. My prayers have not ceased for you all, and the old pop song says, “The road is long……but he ain’t heavy, he’s my brother” That song is based on a true story of a little boy who carried his sick and dying brother through the freezing cold and snow, and when he was asked how he did it, he said, “he ain’t heavy, cause he’s my brother.” Sam is Erin’s husband, and but he is also her brother in Christ!

    Keep the Faith!

    2Ch 6:14
    And said, O LORD God of Israel, there is no God like thee in the heaven, nor in the earth; which keepest covenant, and shewest mercy unto thy servants, that walk before thee with all their hearts:

  3. Doc Couhie says:

    So great to see how Sam is doing. I can’t wait to get up there!

  4. Mike Saulter says:

    Tony, Julie, Erin and Sam

    Keep the faith! I want you to know I’ve just returned from Italy where I was fortunate enough to attend Mass at the Vatican. There is a candle of thanksgiving lit in St. Peters for the recovery of one Sgt Sam Nichols!

  5. Lou says:

    An excellent wife, who can find?
    For her worth is far above jewels.
    The heart of her husband trusts in her,
    And he will have no lack of gain.

    The word “virtuous” is often used rather than “excellent.” The Hebrew meaning of the word is “…an army, wealth, virtue, valor, strength…” I have heard the word “courageous” used in place of “excellent.” Sounds like your daughter.

  6. ” WHY ? ”

    Hello Tony, Sam & Erin,

    ” WHY? “… why today, so many “why’s” in our hearts … why Sam, why Erin, why one soldier lives and another dies, why my son was spared & his friend died, why my cousin, why war, why, why why???

    But, for me … it’s “why” today. Why haven’t “I” been able to write you, about Sam until now.

    Today, I finally have the strength, emotionally … to write you all, although I’ve been updated daily by Larry about Sam & Erin. I’ve been thinking of you ALL & PRAYING for Sam & Erin constantly, but, I’ve been coming to grips with our own “battles” emotionally regarding our son, his injuries & the war in general, losing another cousin of mine & feeling all the grief of losing my cousin in Vietnam 37 years ago this month… and, the emotions pulling on my heart have just been tremendous!

    Over the last several years, I’ve read hundreds of stories of soldiers, countless accounts of HERO after HERO.

    But, only 3 … have ever moved me SO deeply, leading to songs from my heart.
    ” Those I Can’t Forget “… it’s like they were my own sons.

    For whatever reason, the first day I went to Sam’s blog … I just looked at his/Erin’s photo & just couldn’t bear what I felt inside. I was SO overcome, SO heartbroken, and, I just cried out to God, again … for another son I did not know.

    I know Larry’s shared with you about my music ministry, and, how I can only write when I’m led … moved/inspired. And, I NEVER know “why” or “when” that will happen, but, it’s happened ALOT over the last few months.

    When Larry first sent me Sam’s site, this blog… for some reason, I just couldn’t bear to see another soldier suffering, read another heartbreaking story and, Sam’s eyes just cut right through to my soul … but, today… God gave me the strength to go on and, now I can open my heart to you all.

    You see, for whatever reason, God’s gift to me, this “Gift of Song” is SO overpowering, overwhelming for me personally/emotionally… folks just don’t understand … how deeply I grieve/feel/love/etc.

    When something or someone moves me to song, I cannot function, my whole world has to stop until I get the song out.

    On July 4th, I was overcome with emotions regarding the “Unsung Heroes Life”.

    The lives that so many of us live, like Sam, like Erin & all your family. The deployed soldiers, those returned, those injured, the wives, children, parents, etc.

    So few will EVER understand the battles we face daily, moment by moment … especially when our sons/daughters return … and, the battles we face forever because of the results of their service.

    Every day, every single day … as I walk out of my house, right beside our flag …. I look up at that flag, Thank God for my freedoms … and say to myself, ” That’s WHY!”

    That’s “WHY” folks like Sam and, our son step forward to protect our freedoms, liberty & reach out all across this world to try to insure our protection & extend help to those in this world who do not know the taste of freedom, which so many of us take for granted at times.

    Although, I find myself constantly asking God “why” … but, NOT questioning His decisions, just always seeking His lessons in life from the “whatevers” that happen to Sam & us all.

    For I know HE has a reason, a purpose that WE cannot SEE or understand.

    Therefore, it is our FAITH, our TRUST in HIM that gives us the Peace and understanding that we need.

    That’s what Erin is experiencing … that’s her strength, and, her love for Sam. What a VERY lucky young man to have such a woman in his life!

    I told Larry the first time I saw their photo… that guy WILL make it! He WILL recover, but, I felt like that was something I could only say to Larry, for I did not want to come across as if I knew that for a fact, that was just what my “gut” was telling me.

    I’m SO happy to hear Sam’s progress, and, PRAY constantly for a FULL recovery.

    God IS ALIVE … Each day is a new day to PRAISE HIM, give HIM the glory … and, NO DOUBT Sam & Erin are a testament to that fact & will be used greatly by God!

    As mentioned before, I was recently moved & inspired to write a song titled,

    ” Unsung Heroes Life ” – ( Behind EVERY Soldier )

    With their permission, I would like to dedicate this song to Sam & Erin.

    I believe they are such a testament to the “Unsung HEROES Life”, and, no doubt … Erin … IS the HERO behind her soldier!

    May God continue to strengthen them both, and, continue to heal Sam completely!

    In HIS service,

    Susan D. Wiseman – “The Tribute Lady”
    TheTributeLady (dot) com

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