The events of one day can forever alter a person's perspective on life ... and eternity.
As the windshield exploded, the impact of the other vehicle sent the the stick shift through my leg. My shoulder, ribs, wrist, and leg were broken, and I couldn't breathe. My punctured lung was filling up with blood. My brain was hemorrhaging. Firemen were cutting me out of the truck and sticking needles in my arm. My head was exploding with pain. I had glass in my eyes and mouth. The ambulance ride seemed to take forever. I knew I was dying. Then something in me said,
What a cheap way to go!'
by David F. Calderon II
as told to Diane Dew
March 9, 1996 ... I was working outside on the house, when suddenly it began to rain. I thought about how the girls would be walking home from school in this torrential deluge, and how they'd have to cross that busy intersection. The downpour was only intensifying. So I left to pick them up. When I did not find them, I started back and stopped at the busy intersection. The light changed, and I proceeded slowly across. Out of the corner of my right eye I saw a blur, a car coming at me at a high speed.
In a moment's time, as if in slow motion, the vehicle slammed into my right door and the door crushed towards me. The front and rear windshield of my truck exploded and the impact of the other vehicle sent the stick shift through my leg. The passenger door broke my shoulder and ribs and my truck went whirling off to the opposite side of the intersection, landing five feet from a pregnant woman on the sidewalk. She ran up to me and began praying for me aloud. I could not breathe. The pain from the impact and broken bones was severe. I was blacking out and fading away. Somehow, I knew I was dying. I thought of nothing else. I thought of the pain and not being able to breathe; my right lung was punctured and filling up with blood. I could not think. Then something in me said, What a cheap way to go!
Next thing I remember was my pager going off. I knew it was my son calling me, wondering where I was. I saw the firemen cutting me out of the truck and sticking needles in my arm. I slumped over the steering wheel, unconscious.
I woke up in the ambulance a couple times with pain through my whole body. The ride seemed to take forever. I blacked out several times, my head exploding with pain. I had glass in my eyes and mouth. Then I was out again.
The doctors swarmed around me; I could hear them. I was dying from internal bleeding. I was in the intensive care unit for several weeks.
However, instead of getting better, my condition worsened. The doctors could not figure out what was wrong. What bothered me most was that thought I had at the accident scene: What a cheap way to go! I kept thinking about it over and over. It was a strange thought. I didn't call out to God, or think of my family. Why did I say that?
The hospital ran the gamut of tests. I never knew there were so many kinds of tests. One day, they put a camera up my artery, from my calf, through my heart, and into my lungs. As I lay there, they gave me something for the pain. They made an incision and inserted a wire device up my leg. Scared, I started to pray. I prayed for the nurse and the surgeon. I prayed for the hospital. I prayed for forgiveness. I prayed all of this aloud. And since I was really scared when the probe passed through my heart, my prayers got louder and louder. The doctor asked the nurse to inject me more to shut me up. She did. But I just got louder. I prayed for the doctor's family, and the nurse's family and all the people in the hospital. I prayed about everything I could think of, to summon courage. The doctor kept on telling the nurse to shut me up. Later, when the procedure was over and I was back in my room, the nurse in the operating room came by and said thanks, that she needed to hear that. She then told me how the doctor was an agnostic and kept asking to shut you up because he did not wish to hear of such faith in Jesus. I didn't tell her that I actually was terrified, or that the prayer was really for me (or so I thought). That whole episode started to make me think.
During my hospitalization, I watched Christian television, 24 hours a day. Sometimes I would sleep with the TV on and listen to it even in my sleep. It really ministered to me.
Then one day I went for more tests. These tests were really awful. Two were kidney biopsies. Awake during the procedure, I was scared again. They numbed me from the waist down. But when I saw the weird instruments they were going to stick into me, I started to pray. I got so loud that this time I was encouraged by the nurses since they had heard of me by now. They seemed to be blessed by it.
I talked to everyone about Jesus and became bold in my conviction. People came around just to share about Jesus and the Word.
Then one day I got the bad news. The reason I was getting worse rather than better was that I had a severe case of advanced lupus, an autoimmune disease.
"Lupus? What a stupid name for a disease," I said. "I don't have lupus! I can break out your concrete driveway, load it up, take it away and pour it the next day." I would say to the doctor, "I am strong, I never have been sick. In no way do I have lupus!" I was not in denial. I had respect for the doctors. I was just in shock. They also said I had only a few years, at most, to live.
The priests came in with a look of gloom on their face. They came to see how I was taking it. I said, "It doesn't matter; I'm going home with Jesus." So I began to share about God's promise of eternal life through faith in His Son. Later, they confided that I actually gave them a new outlook on Jesus, and that in all their years of visiting people in the hospital, I had been a great blessing to them, an experience they would never forget. Now, that made me think.
You see, I have since realized why I made that statement, What a cheap way to go. I knew I had never done anything of eternal value or told anyone about Jesus. I knew that my life could have ended at that intersection without ever making an impact upon the eternal fate of my brothers and sisters.
I am now bold. No matter where I am, I share the Word with everyone. I have prayed for the Holy Spirit to dwell in me and give me spiritual eyes, mind and heart. I pray for wisdom and knowledge and for the power of God. I read the Word like never before. And now I get it. Before, I did not. I really have surrendered my all to Him, seeking to follow his commands.
Don't let another day pass without giving your life to Him. You are here right now, and gone the next moment. You don't know when it's your turn. The psalmist cried, "Lord, teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto knowledge." (Psalm 90:12) We must make each day count.
When I go, I will know in my heart that I did all I could do for the honor and glory of Jesus Christ, God.
Many blessings are hidden in tragedy, if we have the eyes to see them. Doctors said if it was not for the accident I could have dropped dead from my insidious disease, discovered during my hospitalization - and no one would have known why. And many times since the accident, we have thought about how the girls surely would have died, had they been in the car with me. (They had run into a girlfriend's house to escape the rain; that's why I did not find them.) I would now be at the cemetery on the two-year anniversary of their death.
In a way, I almost feel a celebration of my death at that intersection. You see, David did die that day. And he was reborn.
Make every day count:
"Lord, teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto knowledge." (Psalm.90:12)
"Occupy (literally, keep busy) till I come." (Luke.19:13)
"We must work the works of God while it is day, for the night cometh when no man can work." (John 9:4)
"Redeeming the time, because the days are evil." (Ephesians 5:16; Colossians 4:5)
Copyright © 1998 David F. Calderon II
Other articles by David F. Calderon II
'What a cheap way to go!'
Snowstorm in the High Sierras
A Matter of Life and Death
'O Death, Where is thy Sting?'
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