“My source of strength and grace”

Gemma Falvey June 9, 2022
St. Joseph Lake Orion, MI

I am a regular adorer. We have a perpetual adoration chapel that is open seven days a week. It was 10 p.m. on a Tuesday night; that's the night it happened. I got home at 9:30 and everything happened.

My husband—who was in the healthiest condition he’d been in in years—had just finished running on the elliptical for his workout. He was walking around the kitchen island doing his cool down and we were talking about the day. He suddenly stopped, said he was so dizzy, and collapsed. 

He fell between the island and the counter and I couldn’t pull him over. 

I called 911 and he came to a bit while I was talking and then he stopped breathing. 

I yelled to the 911 operator and she said the EMS crew and police were at my door. 

They started working on Joe and a woman officer took me to the other room and kept talking to me. Time kept passing. I couldn’t say any prayers except ‘God please help him’ over and over. They finally had Joe stable enough to be transferred to the ambulance and hospital. My sons had arrived and we followed but first had to stop at the chapel. One of the women I knew was there and I asked her to stay for me and to pray for my husband as he just had a heart attack.

He was in ICU for three days and finally started to come around. That’s when the nurse said to me that there was my miracle. They were not expecting him to wake up. 

On Friday, I had a meeting with the doctor and he told me that 85 percent of his heart was damaged by the heart attack. 

That it had taken the EMS crew 17 minutes working on him. 

That he had some oxygen, but they kept losing him that night. 

That he was going to have surgery, they just didn’t know how extensive it would be yet. 

As I sat with him during the day, it became quite clear that he not only didn’t remember the heart attack, but also when he awoke from sleeping he couldn’t remember what was going on. His memory went from being on ship in the Navy, 45 years ago, to the next time we were on vacation in Florida, which was 20 years prior to the heart attack. The doctors didn’t expect him to regain his memory, be able to work again or even be left alone. 

That night I had my 11 p.m. chapel hour. Fortunately, I was by myself.

I have a very close relationship with our Lord in my heart. I go deep with any problems I am having. I developed a habit of just pouring out my heart. It's like telling your best friend what's going on.

I began to pray to Our Lord. I begged him to either bring Joe back to his previous life, able to work, hunt, and be independent, or to take him. I was afraid if he didn’t recover, he would end up hating our Lord. I told Jesus that would kill me; I couldn’t bear it. 

For me, Jesus’ presence in the Eucharist is not just looking at a little host. I’m looking at Jesus.

I kept praying, and crying, giving him all my fear and worries about what was to come. At the end of the hour, I left comforted, feeling the peace that he was there for me. 

Monday, Joe was transferred to St. Joe’s Hospital for a quadruple bypass surgery. After his evaluation, the surgery was set for the following Monday, July 13, his 64th birthday. 

During the week leading up to the surgery he was regaining his memory, aware of what was going to happen and why. He still had no memory of the heart attack or the entire first week at the other hospital. 

I went to the chapel for adoration and gave thanks to our Lord. ‘He has done great things for me!’ I exclaimed to my friend and co-adorer. We said the rosary together for Joe with great fervor as the surgery was approaching. 

The night before his surgery, I stayed the night. He was obviously nervous and agitated about what was going to happen in the morning. I suggested we pray the Rosary together and he agreed. 

The surgery was successful and came home by the end of the week. 

Joe was very determined to completely recover. He pushed himself in physical therapy to go as hard as he could. He was told of the work that the EMT team had given him and brought them a box of doughnuts to thank them. He knew one of the men who helped him that night. They filled him in on all that it took to keep him going, time after time. They also had told him that they stopped by when he was in the ICU and they couldn’t believe it was him in front of them now! 

It was time for him to go to the heart doctor for his follow up visit. They did the EKG and found that only 15 percent of his heart was damaged. The doctor was amazed at the recovery; he had not had a patient have such a major recovery, from 85 percent damaged to 15 percent damaged. 

Still, it was devastating to hear from the doctor that Joe had 85 percent heart damage. Hearing that kind of news, how would you feel if you had no one to share that with? You would feel so alone. Bringing it to our Lord, for me, that was the source of strength—I had someone to lean on who could help.

I tell everyone: All glory and honor to Our Lord for this miracle. The Eucharist is my source of strength and grace. I lean on him, bring my concerns to Him. I count on him for my focus on what’s important. He gives me consolation, strength, the ability to discern how to handle difficult problems and loss, and he brings me joy.

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