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Believing in Miracles

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“Today truly was the best day of my life! It's so good to see you talking and making all the funny comments you've been holding in the past couple days! You're fighting hard and things are only going to get better! I can't wait for you to eat and walk tomorrow. Hopefully you will get to see Ava soon, she misses her dada so much! When you are better we are going to finish that race together! I love you lots and I am so proud of you! Love you, Jaci.”

Some people just can’t understand the relationship between siblings, especially a brother and his younger sister. When I was born my brother was 14, that is a big age difference, and you might think that would effect our relationship, but it didn’t. He remembers changing my diapers and babysitting me with his friends, I was like one of the guys. Through the years we have come to have many inside jokes and stories that people around us just don’t understand, but to us it simply means the world. What would you think if you saw two strangers finding pure delight in Lady Gaga’s song, Born This Way? Another thing we do, with all of my siblings, is quote every line in classic movies like Home Alone and Uncle Buck.

On June 4th 2011, Josh suffered a severe heat stroke during one of his many half-marathon races, and it quickly turned into the most tragic event to occur in my life. Imagine receiving a call from your sister-in-law saying that somehow she can not find your brother and he was supposed to finish his race two hours before then. Through the phone I could hear the panic and fright in her voice, and I immediately knew this was not just a little thing. She searched every medical tent, beer tent, and bathroom on the race site with my sister, Jill, and niece, Ava, with no luck. In that time period the official for Dam to Dam was aware of our troubles and also aiding us in finding Josh. The next thing we know, my sisters are headed to Downtown Des Moines to the Methodist Hospital to, in the words of the doctors, “identify a body” that could in fact be Josh’s.

Long story, short, it was Josh and he was still alive, but his temperature peaked at 106.1 and he was in critical condition. The next four days were the most brutal days ever. Josh had many odds not in his favor and many difficulties to overcome, he took only one hurdle at a time. Seeing my dad, one of the strongest men I know, cry, and hearing my sister-in-law say she can’t raise their daughter as a single parent, quickly starts to break you down until you just want to give up. She never actually said that to my face, but here we are piled into a quiet waiting room and suddenly there are no secrets.

Walking in his hospital room for the first time I didn’t know what to expect, but I definitely didn’t expect to see what I actually saw. There was my only brother lying in a bed unresponsive with a ventilator down his throat to help him breath because he wasn’t able to breathe on this own, and ice packs covering every part of his body. I did what most everyone did when they saw him the first time or if anyone saw their loved one in that way, I broke down.

Through the power of prayer from my strong family, amazing friends, school Families, and supportive community, Josh came back to us. On the outside Josh seemed fragile and weak but on the inside he was fighting for his life with the strongest will power there is. I wrote the quote at the beginning the day before Josh got the ventilator taken out and the final outcome was still up in the air, but I believed in him and God, and look where I am today. Today my family stands stronger and closer. We have always been a very close family, but somehow we have become stronger. We have an unspoken bond.

So what do I want you to take from this? Love everyone unconditionally, especially your family because life is short and it takes something like this to realize how precious life can be. Don’t realize this when it is too late. Don’t take anything for granted because in a heartbeat it can be taken away. I thought I loved Josh as much as I possibly could, but this helped me find that extra love that I never knew I had. Another point to note from this is the unrestricted love from God, and the many blessings he offers us. He answered our prayers, brought my brother back, and made my family whole again, and I continue to thank him every day for that. On October 15th 2011, four months after Josh’s heat stroke, he finally finished the last three blocks of his race with his family by his side cheering him on. That night the Channel 13 News did a follow up story showing Josh completing the race.





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