“Where am I?”
“Oh my God. Phillip. You’re in the hospital, honey. You had an accident. Oh sweety.”
His neck cramped with pain as he attempted to survey the room, his eyes eventually focusing and settling on a praying woman at his bedside. He squinted at her through the bandages and crushing pain in his face and began to cry hot, stinging tears. Something terrible was wrong, but he knew this woman. Somehow, he could feel her love flowing through his veins. He closed his eyes and took a few deep breaths.
“Jessica. You’re Jessica,” he croaked, his voice barely audible.
“Yes, sweetheart, it’s Jessica. I’m your wife.”
“Jessica. Yes. I know you. Yes, sweetheart. Yes, I’m your husband…so confused…don’t remember what happened…can’t remember. ”
“Honey, just rest. You’re going to be ok. God is taking care of you.”
All the time she’d been holding his hand. And she kept holding and patting his hand as she bowed her head and wept in a low, murmuring stream of sobs and prayers.
“Yes, God is taking care of you, Phillip.”
God, thought Phillip. Yes, God. God is taking care of me.
Glimpses of the last forty days began to form in his aching head. Glimpses of prayer and fasting and worship and study of scripture. These things he held on to, turning them over and over in his mind like precious jewels that he could scarcely believe were his. They were nearly all he had left. He thought of his wife who was holding his hand. He thought of —Yes, children–his two beautiful children. And he thought of his God…who took care of him.
Phillip’s memory never fully returned. He remembered pieces of his childhood. He remembered how he and Jessica had met. He remembered falling in love with her. He didn’t remember the days his children were born. He wasn’t even there, but he didn’t remember that either. He just remembered that he loved them. He didn’t remember the nights of pouring stinging, numbing booze down his throat, the endless string of one night stands with roadside bar girls, or the times when he threw his fist into other drunken men’s faces. He didn’t remember Easter night three days before, when he plowed his truck into an the 60-year-old, oak tree a half mile from a bar off route 77 with a fifth of bargain whiskey in his gut.
The only span of his life that he could remember with any completeness or clarity was the the forty days before his accident. The forty days of Lent in which he annually–miraculously–managed to straighten out his crooked ways out of devotion to the God of his mother and her mother before her. The forty days that had kept his wife hoping and praying desperately year after year for a permanent change…for a miracle to save their marriage.
To Phillip, those forty days were his life, and they would continue to be his life.