One Moment that Taught Me Everything I Need to Know About Life
By Greg Fullerton
My daughter was dying.
The constant “beep, beep” was a sinister reminder that her life depended on machines.
Suddenly, an alarm went off. Nurses scrambled in.
Carly’s oxygen saturation level had dropped. They quickly put her on a respirator.
Her oxygen levels rose, then dropped again. They turned up the oxygen. This happened several more times until Carly was breathing almost 100 percent oxygen, yet her oxygen levels continued dropping.
Finally, they hit a point where they couldn’t give her any more breaths and they couldn’t give her any more oxygen.
I was overwhelmed with the impending reality that she was going to die, and there was nothing I could do about it.
Carly had been born at 22 weeks — about 18 weeks premature. She weighed less than a pound and she could fit in the palm of my hand. 24 hours after she was born she underwent emergency heart surgery.
Several days later, her respirator slipped past her lungs and popped her stomach.
As he had several times throughout Carly’s ordeal, the doctor said, “She’s not going to make it, do you even want us to try?”
“Of course I want you to try. Are you crazy?” I urged.
So Carly went into a seven-hour surgery to sew up her stomach. The doctor said it was like trying to sew cottage cheese together, it was so underdeveloped.
She came out of surgery and she wasn’t doing well. She had gotten out of surgery in the late afternoon, and it was 2 a.m. the next morning when her alarm sounded and her oxygen levels started dropping.
Her skin was so translucent you could almost see through it. She had not opened her eyes at all. When she was in pain she would lay with her arm over her eyes. Even that tender of an age, you could tell when it was uncomfortable.
So as I sat with her, thinking she was breathing her last breaths, I started talking to her.
“Hey, my name’s Greg, and I’m your dad. Your grandpa’s name is Lloyd, my mom’s name is Raye. You have a sister, Brenna.”
I just started talking to her about life, random stuff that came into my head, just so she could hear my voice.
And that’s when it happened.
This delicate, one-pound angel, who had never before opened her eyes, moved her arm off her face, opened one eye, and stared right at me. No, it was more like she looked right through me.
In one of those magical moments that seem to last forever, we connected at an almost cosmic level. She wasn’t that tiny body laying there–she was an eternal being with infinite comprehension.
I felt like she was saying, “Thank you. I’m going to be okay.”
And suddenly she started coming back, and they dialed down the oxygen. She became stable.
She’s a healthy 19-year-old now, and I cherish every moment we spend together.
I think we waste far too much time and energy sweating the small details in life. We get so mired in superficial, trivial things that we forget what matters most.
How petty is your fear to talk to new people about an opportunity relative to the mission you were born for? Are your fears and distractions more important than your family and what you can do for them if you live up to your full potential?
Don’t give up, no matter how futile it seems to keep trying. If Carly could make it, so can you.
Don’t let anyone tell you it’s not worth trying or that you won’t make it. Take counsel from the all-knowing voice in the depths of your soul, not from ignorant voices in the crowd.
Somehow, at less than 1 pound and 22 weeks gestation, Carly found something that made her want to drive through all the pain and suffering she endured. I strongly believe that she made a decision to fight through that ordeal.
That’s how greatness comes — by deciding to persevere no matter what. It comes from knowing who you are, believing in yourself, finding your purpose, and living that purpose with integrity.
It doesn’t matter how or when we die. What matters is how we live.