The Email Address
On my worst day, God showed me the meaning of kindness.
I want to share with you one of the worst nights of my life, and how God used a paramedic to help me through it:
On May 23, 2013, I was in the middle of a two-year paramedic program when I got news no one ever wants to receive. “There’s been a bad car wreck”, my grandfather said. “Your mom’s been killed.”
“My mom?” I heard myself say. As the shock of that sentence started to settle in, my wife put her arms around me. I just stood stunned.
“Was anyone else in the car?” my wife said.
My grandfather nodded, still looking at me. “Some of your brothers and sisters.”
We quickly started packing to go to the hospital. My grandfather put my wife and I into his car. “You’re not driving right now,” he said.
The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.
Psalm 34:18 (ESV)
On the way to the hospital, we got some tidbits of news. The accident scene was pretty bad. My mother was the only confirmed fatality so far, but a total of five other patients, (some of them my siblings) were at the hospital.
When we arrived, I saw one of my sisters who had not been in the car. She was impatiently trying to find out where the rest of the family was in the ER. Exasperated, she fell into her husband’s arms, and I turned my attention to the visitor desk next. “I’m going to check on your two brothers,” my grandfather said. “See if you can find your sister.”
I don’t remember who, but someone directed me to the room where my nine-year-old sister was. She brightened when she saw me. “Hi David!” she said. I wondered if she knew our mother was gone, but I didn’t say anything yet. I just sat down next to her. “You ok?”
“Yeah, I think so.”
Then we sat in silence for a little while. As the sound of a cartoon hung in the background, I began to think about my sister of only nine years old. How she was going to be without her mother so young. Then I thought of my youngest sibling, a four-year-old girl. That’s even worse, I thought.
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea.
Psalm 46:1–2 (ESV)
After a while, I became tired of dwelling on my thoughts and stood up. “I’m going to check on the others. Are you ok?” She nodded. I walked out to the hall and started pacing a little, trying to clear my head. At a nurse station, I spotted a paramedic who seemed to be quietly eyeing the scene. I’d been in enough hospitals as an EMT to recognize that look. He knows something. I approached him. “Were you on the scene?”
He nodded. “Yes, sir.”
“So, I know we lost my mom,” I said, forcing myself to maintain composure. “But can you tell me how everyone else was?”
Nodding again, he said, “Everyone else was stable.”
I breathed a sigh of relief. Stable. What a great word!
“They all had only minor injuries,” he continued.
I thanked him for letting me know. “You’re welcome,” he said. “Glad I could help.”
Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.
1 Peter 4:9–10 (ESV)
Two weeks had passed. The funeral and burial for my mother had been completed, and I was back at work on my ambulance, trying to feel some semblance of normalcy. Tonight my partner and I had just dropped off a patient at the local ER and were climbing back into the ambulance when I saw an EMS Supervisor truck pull up. Out stepped a paramedic, and I recognized him as the man who had put me at ease two weeks before.
I stepped out and approached him. “Hi, I’m David. We spoke a couple weeks ago, when I lost my mother?”
He nodded in recognition. “Of course. How is your family doing?”
“We’re doing…as good as we are going to be right now.”
“Sure. I know that’s tough.”
“Thanks again for your help that night”, I said. “I really appreciate it.”
“No problem. I’m glad I was able to.”
“You know, I’m actually half-way through a paramedic program.”
He brightened at that. “Ah, great!” He pulled out a notepad. “Listen, I don’t usually do this, but I want to give you my email address so you can contact me for a reference when you’re done.” He continued, “I saw how you were there for your family that night, and there are too many people who don’t do that. When you’re ready for a job, you contact me.”
With that, he handed me a slip of paper from his notepad with his name and email address written on it. He then said goodbye and walked into the ER, returning to his duties.
Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 (ESV)
I kept that slip of paper under my keys and looked at it every night for nearly three years. During that time I finished my paramedic program, moved to a different state, and now have a job I love at a hospital I’m proud to be a part of.
Recently when I got home from work one night, I took another long look at that slip of paper with the email address on it. Then I put it in my shredder. Part of me considered keeping it, but I think it was my way of closing a chapter of my life that started on that terrible night.
I’ll never forget Erik, the paramedic who did nothing but be there for me and my family on the night my mom died. What he did was just part of his job, but to me it made an impression that will last.
Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered. The people curse him who holds back grain, but a blessing is on the head of him who sells it.
Proverbs 11:25–26 (ESV)
I have no idea if this man was a Christian, but he certainly showed characteristics a Christian can learn from. And wherever he is now, I hope God is blessing him.
Now at my job I try every day to show as much care and compassion to my patients and their families as he did to me and mine. He did so freely and kindly.
It’s what Jesus calls me to do.
It’s why I’m a paramedic.
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