When the Grim Reaper Calls

Death sucks. There is no way around it. For those that live in Christ, we have an eternal hope of being with our Savior and Lord, but we were created with the desire and even the biological faculties to resist, and not fear death. The strange thing about death, the brain, and the way it was designed, is that trauma is especially difficult to deal with. Maybe the best way to show you is to…well…show you.

It’s a day not unlike any other day. I remember getting in the car to go to Baytown to talk to the recruiter to settle some paperwork for the Navy. I was home on leave after bootcamp, and I helped recruit for a few days, which counted as “work days.” This allowed me to recoup those days, but I needed the paperwork from my recruiter. My friends heard my favorite bootcamp stories and decided that they wanted to join, too, so we were all headed up together.

While continuing a fun and delightful conversation, I was instantaneously teleported into a helicopter, surrounded by EMTs, and in a fight for my life. If I just lost you, imagine how I felt. It was like something out of a terrible movie. I could hear one of the medics yell, “He is at 60/20 and dropping, but holding a steady 80 on bpm.” Now, I am not a doctor, but I know enough about health to know that those vitals are not good. In fact, once the 20 hits 0, I am seriously in trouble. The excruciating pain was also an indicator that there wasn’t much time. I didn’t really care how I had gotten to this point, I just knew it was my reality. I was 18 years old, just got home from bootcamp, in the shape of my life, and I could deduce that a car accident was going to kill me. I will become another statistic.

This fact made me angry, but I knew I needed to cry out to God and ask for forgiveness. After all, I had seen it in all the movies. I was a Christian, but I wasn’t living like it. I had lost my faith, and I hadn’t known why. Again, it is what it is. I immediately noticed that I wasn’t really worried about my possessions or my own safety, but only regretted that I hadn’t been a better Christian, son, brother, and that I would never get to experience the road ahead. Much like Hezekiah, I prayed regarding those things, and then begged for more time. I remember telling God, “If you let me live, I will do whatever you want me to do.” In other words, I literally gave God a blank check to my heart and life. After all, I was dying, and I could feel his Peace holding me. I had accepted my fate, and I was excited about going Home, as strange as that sounds.

Suddenly, the helicopter fell dead silent. It was surreal, for a moment, I thought everything froze, like in the movie Constantine.  I managed to sum up strength from the depths of my broken bowels and say, “Somebody please talk to me.” I knew that if I passed out, it would likely be over. I guess I had transitioned back into fighting for my life. I didn’t know what I was asking, because they started to ask me all kinds of questions, and I answered them to the best of my ability. When it got silent again, I looked to my left, and I could see Herman Memorial Hospital of Houston, Texas through the window. We were less than five miles out, and I felt like I didn’t have the strength to make it. That’s when everything went black.

I woke up on a gurney in the hospital being rushed somewhere. One of the doctors put his hand on my head and told me, “Keep fighting. Don’t give up.” Everything went black again. Next thing I know, I wake up and see my parents. I was extremely confused, but I wasn’t dead. For the sake of time, I will skip my 3 week long recovery at the hospital, and fast forward to being at home on bed-rest for a month.

The turning point of my time on bed-rest came when my dad asked, “What do you know about the car accident.” I honestly admitted, “Not a whole lot.” He filled me in on the details. Apparently we were in Baytown, I could only remember driving through Dayton. A big vehicle pulled in front of us. The driver had two choices: hit the truck or risk a play in oncoming traffic. He chose the truck. From what I am told, he chose wisely, and I appreciate it to this day. I am not mad at him. Life deals us all shitty hands sometimes. Either way, the final injury count was 7 broken ribs, a broken sternum, 2 broken vertebrae, a punctured lung, injured colon, splenectomy, nephrectomy, retrograde amnesia, and anterograde amnesia. More simply, I cheated death. My father spoke to the EMTs on the scene and a few others, and many were convinced that the military training saved my life; I had been taught to look the Grim Reaper in the face and smile. I have dealt with it by thinking he might of just called the wrong number. I can almost hear God barge in on the conference call and chew him out and then wonder how he was going to fix it. However, that is not the personality of God. It’s just how I deal with it.

Wagen, over and out.


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