Night & Day; Death & Life

This summer didn’t begin the way I thought it would.

May 16th, only two weeks before I began packing up my things and making my move to Kansas to begin my internship, my family had one of the most terrifying experiences of our lives. The night before, my dad went down to our basement and turned the AC on. As he did this, because he’s a big believer in saving money and not allowing any cool air to escape the house, he shut and locked all the windows and doors and we were in for the night. My two nieces Jainee and Johannah were sleeping over because their new baby brother Jude was in the process of coming out of the womb(!!!). What a champ. I had just moved my stuff in from school and was unpacking, cleaning, and playing with my cat when my head started hurting. It just felt like a dull throbbing nowhere in particular and yet it was something I couldn’t NOT pay attention to. I felt nauseous, weak, and dizzy, but these aren’t abnormal things for me to experience when I’m tired or moving around a lot, so I figured I’d finish cleaning and go to bed. Right before I laid down, my mom came into my room and asked how things were going to which I replied, “Fine. I just don’t feel very well but maybe it’s the dust.” She smiled, told me she’d just been praying and that I’d be okay. I should just rest.

So I did. That was around midnight. I went to sleep with the dull throbbing and woke up at 6:30 with a pain that I can’t say I’ve ever experienced before. My body hurt, my head was throbbing, I couldn’t focus, I felt like I was going to be sick any moment and so I figured I was dehydrated. Those are symptoms of that, right? So I chugged some water after dragging myself to the kitchen, took three Ibuprofen, and laid back down. I only slept a little bit when my body woke me up again at 8:30 and I couldn’t move or think clearly. I just thought, “This hurts so much but I’m so tired.”

Right before I closed my eyes (and later would realize how close to death I was) my mom rushed into my room and yelled, “Sena, how do you feel?”

“I feel…really sick.”

“Get to a window right now.”

Carbon monoxide. You never think that it’s as serious as it is. At least I didn’t. Before being almost killed by an invisible gas, I never thought it was actually a big deal. People can tell, right? Our bodies tell us when things like that happen, right? The answer is yes, but I wasn’t listening to my body because I never thought it would happen to us.

I went to a window where my 3 year old niece was sitting and she looked up at me and said, “Aunt Sena, I don’t feel well. Can you give me a cup?” (She has amazing vocabulary for a 3 year old) So not knowing what was going on, I handed her a cup and she vomited in it. I moved her to the bathroom as quick as I could, which wasn’t very fast because I could barely move at all. I watched as she sat next to the toilet and tried to puke more (sorry for the graphic imagery). “Jainee, let’s go back to the window.” I took her little baby hand and started crying because I didn’t know how to save her. I didn’t even know how to save myself. My dad rounded the corner with my 1 year old niece in his arms and said, “Sena, we need to get outside.” I walked toward the door and to my absolute despair, I couldn’t remember how to open it. I started sobbing as my dad was urging me to open the door. “Dad, I can’t… I don’t know how.. I can’t…”

I don’t think I’ve ever been THAT scared. This cloud of invisible gas had taken over my mind and blinded me from being able to open a simple door. Somehow, with the help of Jesus, I got outside and fell on the ground.

Longer story shortened, my family ended up at the hospital for the entire day on high-flow oxygen trying to restore the life that was sucked out of us during the 12 hours we were “under the influence”.

My face was swollen, my dress was inside out, I wasn’t wearing any shoes, and I forgot my glasses. It was enough to crack us all up during the crazy ordeal.

This experience affects me still today, 2 months and some days later. Every night before I go to sleep, I have to think on Jesus and my hope in Him. Otherwise, the natural reaction I have to sleep is fear. My natural body is afraid to die, every single night.

But because of this experience, I now know how strong and real my Jesus is. Though this was the scariest moment in my life, – I almost lost my mom, my dad, my two baby nieces, and even my own life – Jesus was present every step of the way.

The reason I am alive today is because Jesus warned my mom that we were being poisoned. Jesus told someone the night before to pray for our family, and they didn’t know why. Jesus breathed just enough life into me during the 12 hours I was breathing in death that it kept me alive. Jesus made sure to remind my mom that I wasn’t feeling well the night before so she should check to make sure I was alive. Jesus kept my baby nieces alive in their closed off room away from the gas. Jesus was there to teach me how to open my own door handle when I couldn’t remember how. Jesus even kept my animals alive who were closed up in the basement the entire night while the gasses poured out. Jesus brought LIFE into a situation that called for death. Even during the time that we were at the hospital, Jesus gave us favor with the staff who took the best care of us, He sent my best friend to bring me some snacks to the hospital because I was hungry, and He gave us peace going home that He would continue to care for us in the future.

I don’t tell this story as a sob story about how my family almost died. It’s true. We did. We almost lost our lives.

And I don’t tell this story as a warning to everyone to make sure you have carbon monoxide detectors in your homes. (Although you definitely should).

I tell this because I want to shine light on the truth of my Jesus. He is a SAVIOR. He is a beautiful, wonderful, matchless friend who held all of our hands during this time of utter terror. My family that wasn’t in the house during that time was also affected by the emotions and feelings that come when you almost lose someone you love. This was a real experience, but Jesus brought life through it all.

The night before all of it happened when I was feeling sick, I felt prompted to just pray for healing. I didn’t know it then, but the Holy Spirit was teaching me to protect myself with prayer. I was praying to save my own life. If I hadn’t prayed, or if I hadn’t woken up in the morning, laid in my bed, and said, “Jesus, I don’t know what’s happening, but help me,” I don’t think I would be here writing this blog. If my parents didn’t pray for my family every single day and speak life over us every single day, sure, we’d be in Heaven. But our church congregation would be without their pastors. My siblings would’ve lost their 21 year old sister and their parents. My brother and his wife would’ve lost 2 of their 3 children. Our cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, friends, and coworkers would’ve lost someone they know and love and it would’ve been painful and unjust. There are a lot of “what-if’s” in this kind of situation that no one wants to think about.

People would say, “everything happens for a reason” or “God had a plan” or even “Heaven needed another angel” at our funerals. But those are truths soaked in lies.

Sure, things happen for a reason. The reason would be because Satan is horrible and only exists to steal from us, kill us, and absolutely obliterate anyone he can. Sure, God has a plan, but it is a perfect plan and killing us by carbon monoxide was not in it. Sure, Heaven gained some beautiful souls.

But it was not meant to be this way. We were meant to LIVE and bring LIFE. We were meant to have testimonies that would lead other people to the Jesus that saved us. We were meant to pray and have relationship and communion with our Father. And that is exactly what Jesus taught me through this experience.

He taught me that He will never leave me. He will hold my hand and teach me things in my darkest moments that will save my life, be it spiritually or physically. He will do the exact same for you.

And when it’s all said and done, and life on earth ends, however it will, He will hold us in His arms and keep us there eternally.

He is a healer. He is a teacher. He is a savior.

{If you have experienced trauma from either a near death experience, or a very real death of a family member or a loved one, know now that I sympathize with you. I know how painful life on Earth is. People are so fragile and life is fleeting. But please know that it is Jesus that brings life. Jesus doesn’t just raise the dead. He also heals the broken hearted. I don’t have the answers for everything. But I do have hope. I have Jesus. He is the common denominator. If I would’ve lost my entire family that day, I would still have Him by my side, holding my hand, loving me, and keeping me from loneliness. You are welcome to receive this too.}


[Featured Image by Charlie Harutaka on Unsplash]

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