Tuesday, December 18, 2007

We stand before a Pre-Incan ruin, built by the Moche people. Somewhere around the time of Christ.
Sometimes things that happen in our lives that become markers as we utilize hindsight. When those things are significant, but near, we do not always understand or know what they may one day mean. We simply realize that somehow, they are going to shape us.
The following story, while intensely personal is comprised from the views of the three of us (Brad, Walker and me) on this recent journey.

It was Wednesday, our last day in Peru. I was fighting a stomach/digestive issue and chose to remain in our hotel to rest while Brad and Walker went to one more market.

The rest was good for me. Upon their return, I even felt a bit better.

We gathered our things for final packing and headed back to the airport. It was a long ride, through insane traffic. Driving in Peru is nothing like driving in the USA. Rarely are there accidents, but frequently it seems you are about to be in one.
We got checked in and waited. Our plane was going to depart an hour late.

We took advantage of the time for some final shopping in the duty free zone.

We finally boarded, and took off. Now we could relax and try to sleep on the overnight flight back to the Miami.

My mind wandered. Gathering the recent memories, curious over their impact on Brad...his first time away from North America. It raced forward to my family, waiting in Tulsa without power for the fifth day (from the recent ice storm). I could not wait to see them.

People began to drift off around me. I was exhausted. I had even taken a "Tylenol pm" in hopes of gaining some crucial sleep before landing in the states.
I began to feel a bit unusual. My cramping stomach had come and gone, it seemed to bring with it from time to time, a fever that would spike and then exit. This was different. It came over me quite suddenly.
I felt as if a rising tide within my body was about to consume me. I spoke to the Lord about it. I was concerned over these abnormal sensations.
I looked at Brad, who was between me and the window. He was asleep.
I looked across the aisle at Walker. He was asleep with his "noise cancelling" head phones on.
I was alone...on a plane with a couple hundred people. I needed help, but who?

Lean forward...get your head down. No room. Can't get down. Lean into the aisle. No relief...fading, water rising within...

Brad awakes to find his brother bobbing with the movement of the plane. Quickly, he discerns this is not normal sleep.

He shakes him and calls to him. No response! What in the world?
He is transported back several years to when the two of them sat in the emergency room with their father. He suddenly lost consciousness for no apparent reason. His eyes are open, but with no acuity. He slumps forward. This is just like that.

He hits the "call" button to summon the flight attendant. He calls to Walker, to no avail...those headphones...he can't hear. He shakes his brother more, but no response.
He leans hard behind him and across the aisle and slams his fist into Walker's arm.
Startled! Awake! What is going on?
Walker collects himself, and looks across the aisle trying to understand what is happening.
He sees Brad cradling his brother and rocking him back and forth crying out, "No, no, no!" It is apparent to him, very suddenly that Brad thinks his brother is gone.
Brad has lost his father. He's lost his nephew. Now his brother?
Walker gets out of his seat as the flight attendants arrive. He slaps Brent in the face trying to stir him. Calls his name loudly! No response.
His open eyes yield no understanding or comprehension. His head waggles with every movement.

Is there a doctor on board? Yes! Go get him!
Brad stands up in fear, between the window and his brother, keeping a hand on him. The woman behind him also rises and puts her hand on his shoulder, trying to encourage him. Trying to coax him into calm, but she is frightened as well.

The doctor arrives, he bends before Brent and begins to assess the situation.
Collectively, after several minutes, they try to revive the unconscious man.
Just as suddenly as the tide had taken me, I began to see through a fog. Before me, were all of the flight attendants, and a man I did not recognize. He wore a kind face, and was an older Peruvian man, unusually tall and thin.

They coaxed me out of my chair and cleared the row of seats across the aisle so I could lay down.
What had happened to me? What was going on? I could hear Brad's voice...broken and almost desperate. Why?

The tall older man began to give me instruction. He took my blood pressure...it had bottomed out. The color had drained from my face. He summoned an oxygen tank and insisted I wear it.
He kept asking me how I was feeling?

"Better now," I replied.

A flight attendant sat on the arm of the aisle seat, and held my legs. Keeping them above my heart.

Life raced back to me.

All around me I could hear conversations.

Walker and the doctor, discussed diverting the plane to Colombia for a hospital. No, they decided, he was doing better now...we'd try to make it to Miami.
The doctor told Brad to keep me awake the rest of the flight. 3 to 4 more hours of flight time...I've taken Tylenol pm... my body is craving sleep...Brad is craving sleep.
He sits at my head, and cares for me for the remainder of the flight.
Having nearly hyperventilated himself, the flight attendants are caring for him. Getting him anything he needs.
I am thirsty...desperately thirsty. "No," the doctor says, "you may not have anything to drink."
For the duration of the flight, the oxygen bottle is replaced three times. My brother, with sleep clawing at his doorstep, pokes me faithfully when I begin to drift. His kind words and concerned voice reflect the love our father and mother instilled in us.
We had watched our mother go through this same thing several Christmas Eves ago. It scared us tremendously. She was fighting a virus. She was fine a couple of days later.
We arrived at the airport. The plane cleared. Then, on came four Paramedics.
They took my vitals. They made me take off my shirt and connected me to a portable EKG. They ran it twice.

All is well.
They wanted to take me to the hospital.
I thanked them, but declined. I would get checked out at home. I was feeling much better.

The remaining flights home could not happen quickly enough. We were each trying to process all that had happened. We were so tired.
I went to the doctor yesterday. It was not my heart. It was a Vasal Vega nerve response to my dehydrated body as it tried to fight off infection.
We will never forget all that God did on our trip. Just as we will never forget those moments of intensity that seemed like much more.
I am thankful to be dearly loved by my brother, and Walker.

I know Brad will never forget this, anymore than we have forgotten when it happened to our parents.
Somehow, it will be a marker in time.
Somehow, God will use even this, for His glory!
Praise His Holy Name!!!


At 9:30 AM, Blogger Marti Pieper said...


Our Christmas cantata happened this weekend.

In it was a line that explained that the expression, "Noel, Noel," means literally "Now, all is well."

Noel, Noel.

And I'm so grateful!

with tender love,
and continuing prayers in pink,


At 10:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have ventured back to my readings here, as the recent ice storm has deprived me from my usual online activities.

Not a way to start out my morning... in tears. Not the welcome back I was expecting. Yet a simple reminder of how short and fragile life is. As if I didn't have enough reminders from this six days without electic and water.

As always, I am encouraged and blessed to read how God is moving in others lifes.

I am encouraged this week to see the spirit of Okalhoma at its best. When people ask why I moved here... from Florida. So many are amazed at the "grand" state I was inclined to part... I just remind them of the spirit of Oklahoma.

I am content, happy and appreciative.

At 1:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

God Bless....
Greenfield, Indiana

At 1:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Because of computer and Internet problems at home, I tend to read your blog on my break at work--not the best place to read today's entry. It's hard to deal with tears when you're surrounded by other people.

I'm thankful you're okay and that God ministered to and through you during your days in Peru.

I'm thankful, too, that your family made it through the Oklahoma ice storms in spite of the power outage.

Brad, I appreciated your insights the other day from your first trip out of the States and know that your comments were just a hint of all the thoughts and impressions that are tumbling in your mind and heart. Of course, I read your words not knowing about Brent's "episode" on the return trip. As I read his story today, I could only think of what you were feeling during those moments of uncertainty on that plane. Knowing you as I do, I know that Brent is extremely blessed and grateful to have a loving brother like you are.

I'd love to sit down face-to-face with both of you and hear your stories firsthand.

Enjoy your time together over the Christmas holidays.

Lots of love,


At 1:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Glad to hear everything is okay.

At 2:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh my goodness....

mom emailed and told me to read the blog...she said she cried all the way thru..she loves you guys so much...and i'm sure this brought her back to the time when your dad had a heart attack at our home.

Today is Landee's 12th birthday...i'm baking and getting ready to head to her class for lunch. I have been a bit sentimental today...thinking how fast time flies by...and wanting to slow down and savor every moment. How do they grow so fast???

We think of Bj so very often...and all that God is doing...
and this writing today is another great reminder to cherish life...loved ones...and the ONE who gave the precious gift(s)!

I love you guys...and am so glad that you are here to tell this story!

cousin marla

At 4:15 PM, Blogger Hopeful Pediatric Oncology Nurse said...

AH! That's scary! (Feel better!)

Merry Christmas.

You are in my prayers always. I'm glad you are home safely. May God be with you this Holiday Season.

Love, Leslie.

At 9:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Time for rest and family.

Praise the Lord, "now all is well"!

You are all loved.

Remaining on our knees,

At 3:43 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

I think this is one of the most significant information for me. And i’m glad reading your article.



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