Caption: This photo of Levi was taken at about the age when the incident occurred. I love this photo!
I too often take my children for granted. It's not that I don't love them, appreciate them, or recognize the wonderful blessings they are from God. But, let's face it, life is busy, and the distractions we face every day can be very...well...distracting. I hate to admit this, but there have been times when I've gone for days without significantly interacting with one or more of my children. I'm sure there is more than one parent reading this blog who has experienced the moment when you realize a period in your child's life has passed that you'll never get back...when you're suddenly made aware of the rapid passage of time and the necessity to take advantage of every minute you have with your children. God floored me with this realization when my youngest son, Levi, was only two years old.
Levi had been running a small temperature for a day or so and was feeling rather poorly. Beth (my wife) was sitting on our couch, holding him to her chest. I was sitting next to the two of them, slouched down at eye level with Levi and trying to comfort him. Suddenly, his eyes rolled toward the back of his head, and he started to convulse violently. Knowing this to be a serious issue, I immediately snatched him up, ran to our van, and sped toward the hospital. I didn't even put on my seat belt or secure Levi in his car seat. I held him in my left arm and drove with my right.
About a mile from our home and probably three miles from the hospital, I was confronted with the scariest thing that has ever happened to me: I felt my precious son take his final breath. Right there in my arms, Levi stopped breathing. As the temptation to panic surged through every cell in my body, I realized I was approaching a branch of the Lynchburg Fire Department. Instinctively, I careened into the fire department parking lot, wailing on the horn. What seemed like 4,000 fire fighters came bursting through the front doors of the building. Without asking me a single question, they swept Levi from my arms and began performing various life-saving procedures. I collapsed on the ground in tears, praying that God would not take my son.
The good news is Levi survived...an obvious fact for those who know my family. The firefighters were able to revive him quickly and get him to the hospital, where we found out he had suffered from a febrile seizure--something of which I had never heard but with which I am now very familiar (for more information on febrile seizures, go to the Mayo Clinic website at https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/febrile-seizure/symptoms-causes/syc-20372522). Within a couple of hours, Levi was back to normal, he was released from the hospital, and Beth and I breathed easy once again. By the grace of God, we had averted family disaster!
Even to this day, I think about this incident and shudder with chills. At the same time, I thank God for it because it stands as a stark reminder of the fragility of life and the foolishness of taking my children--or anyone, for that matter--for granted. Scripture tells us we don't know what tomorrow will bring (James 4:14), yet we so often live like there is some guarantee of the future. So, today, when I catch myself taking my children for granted, I think about my little ride with Levi. And through the chill bumps, I smile a smile of both gratitude and conviction. That is to say, I both thank God and ask for His continued grace in making me a better father.