At This Most Difficult Hour, 7 Things I’m Grateful For

Just over twenty-four hours ago, our lives were drastically changed when I found my husband, Ray, unresponsive on our family room floor. It’s probably stupid that I’m writing this when I really need to be sleeping, but the words started circling like evil, sleep-eating, blood-thirsty sharks, (don’t get me wrong, I love these sharks most of the time) and I decided to just get this post out quickly, share it, and – hopefully – go back to sleep.

I can’t fit all of the things I’m grateful for into this post, but this will be a start, at least.

Family on beach

1. Ray’s Guardian Angel

Or maybe it was Little Man’s, I’m not sure. But when Ray got out of bed at 3 am yesterday morning, it barely registered with me. Fortunately, it woke Little Man up. If I hadn’t gotten up to nurse him, the story would have been very different when I woke up to my alarm clock at 5:30.

2. Ray’s Guardian Angel

Did I already say that? Oh well. I learned late yesterday that the procedure the cardiologist performed to open Ray’s artery, which was 100% blocked, would not have been successful if performed by most cardiologists. He happened to come into the hospital at a time when one of the best cardiologists in the city was working, according to my friend who was a critical care cardiac nurse for 17 years and worked with this particular doctor. I can’t remember his name right now, but I’m incredibly grateful to him, too.

3. Ray’s Guardian Angel

Oh, geez. I think I’m getting repetitive now. Okay, all of this clearly goes beyond one guardian angel and points directly to the Big Man himself, but I’m saving Him for last. I figure that some hand was guiding those paramedics, who arrived at our house incredibly quickly, and who were awesome with me and the children (there were firemen and police officers too. All were amazing). From the time I woke up until the paramedics arrived was 15 minutes, I think. When you consider that I did not initially realize what was going on, and had “half” nursed Little Man before I realized that Ray hadn’t just fallen asleep on the floor (sounds crazy, but entirely possible in Ray’s sleep world,) that relatively short space of time is nothing short of miraculous.

A nice fire, good company, good chili. What more could a man ask for?

4. My Family

Just before 4 am, Ray left for the hospital. Who would I call to meet me there, but my parents, of course? And Dad, of course, answered the phone. And, of course, Mom and Dad arrived at the hospital just minutes after I got there with the kids. They proceeded to take care of me and the kids throughout the day, and I know they will be a tremendous help in the days to come.

My sisters… they took the kids yesterday afternoon and evening. They’ll likely have them more than I will in the days and weeks to come. They provide a comfortable, safe haven for children who need it so desperately right now.

My friend Erin texted a few minutes after I called my folks. I said out loud, “Oh my gosh. Erin Miller. What, is she clairvoyant?” Of course, she had no idea what was happening, but still, don’t you think that’s a little weird. If I had known she was awake, I would not have hesitated to text her instead of waking up my parents.  And so she’s listed under this heading. Erin took off work so that she could be there to help with my kids. I’ve said before that she’s generous to a fault. I still believe that to be true. Right now, I’m extremely grateful for that “fault.”

My friend Jennifer (the critical care cardiac nurse) took off work and came and spent hours with me and Ray’s family at the hospital, translating medical-ese into English, asking pertinent questions, and affirming that he was receiving the very best care. She’s been my bestie since our Freshman year in high school. And so she’s under this heading, too.

My friend Brenda arrive outside Ray’s door late last night, having worked in the hospital all day long. She took Ray’s mom and sister down to the cafeteria, got toiletries for them, made sure they were comfortable, and then went back to Ray’s room to stay with him while I went home to get Little Man to bed (it was midnight and he hadn’t gone to bed yet. My poor mom.), get Dude to bed (same story) and get me to bed (same story. Dude and I had both been up since three.) And so… she’s under this heading.

5. Ray’s Family

It sounds ridiculous, but I’m so glad I like Ray’s family right now. They could be under heading number four, but they have their own serious hurting and worrying going on – he’s their blood, their son or their baby brother who’s been through tragedy before, and they were there the first time around. They got him through that first time, thirty years ago, and they will be instrumental in getting him through this time. It’s good to be surrounded by other people who love him, and who I love.

ray and steph on stephs fortieth

6. Our Friends

Many of you would have bent over backwards to help us today. Some of you did, and some of you will help us in the days, weeks, and months to come. We’re going to need all of you. I’m so grateful for this incredible network of friends who span across two wonderful parishes, a preschool, two neighborhoods, and beyond. I’m grateful for your prayers, the meals that have already started arriving, the clean house I came home to, every offer of support and help that you have extended or will extend. I’m overwhelmed. I can never write enough thank you notes, I will never find the words. I hope that I can be as present to you in your hour of need as you are to me.

7. My God and My Faith

My calm this morning was surreal. But I know it was rooted in faith. It was firmly founded in the knowledge that “I have a big God”. He will bring us through this. No matter the outcome, we are never left without hope. We rest securely in the knowledge that God has a beautiful banquet prepared for those who love him. We cling to the understanding that, “I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.” God can will take all things and use them for good. He remains my rock, my stronghold. I went to sleep with the words, “Night holds no terrors for me, sleeping under God’s wings.” Day holds no terror either. He will bring us through.

This doesn’t do it justice, but it’s a start, and maybe now I can sleep. Please continue to pray for Ray. His condition is critical. I can’t find the words to pray, and I’m sure yours will be better. Healing, comfort, and hope. God’s will be done, all Glory to Him, the One who made us all.

Oh, number 8… when it’s so hard to know the words to pray, I’m grateful for all of the prayers written by saints whose words are better than mine – or written by God himself. Here are a few favorites.

Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art though among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now, and at the hour of our death.

Blessed Mother, pray for us. St. Jude, pray for us. St. Isidore (Ray’s patron) pray for us. All you holy men and women, pray for us.



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25 thoughts on “At This Most Difficult Hour, 7 Things I’m Grateful For”

  1. You are an amazing women of faith. This was beautifully said. You are all in my heart and in my prayers. Ray has the best care here on earth and the great physician looking over him. Prayers and love to you. Your forever sister. Susan

  2. Words can be the therapy we need, and the window to our soul. They also help share the Good Word, and strengthen both our beliefs and those who read them. Praying for you all, have our prayer warriors up here called to duty. Yesterday, my prayer was that we all trust in His plan, for he always has one. And for your strength, Stephanie, as you are the glue that holds your beautiful family together on a solid foundation built in faith. Praying for you all, love you, and hoping sleep did finally greet you.

  3. So many prayers for you guys! I’m heading east this evening for a mom’s night out. Text me or call if there is ANYTHING I can help with. Any day or time. If I’m remotely available (which is almost always), I’m there.

  4. Some other powerful and yet, so simple words that I love:”Lord, make me an instrument of your peace… Where there is darkness, let me see light…”

  5. Stephanie my heart goes out to you and Ray. Just saw your post and am so sorry to hear the news. Thank God for your faith it will serve you well. WE will be praying for you, for the kids, and for Ray. May God stay close, guard and guide you through this ordeal. God bless you all. Keep us posted.

  6. Our prayers are with you at this difficult time. I lost my brother 10 years ago to a massive heart attack. He was so bad, they couldn’t even do any procedures on him. You are very blessed.

  7. I am united with you in prayer. I want to give you a prophetic word…

    You are not going to be able to really comprehend how God is going to use this situation to move you forward (no specifics here, sorry) and promote His glory. Hold on tightly to His guiding, loving hand. He will lead you through. Isaiah 43:2.

    God bless you. I love you and will be praying.

  8. What a beautiful post, Stephanie. You and your family have been on my mind constantly since I heard the news. I am praying so hard for Ray’s recovery, and for strength and peace for all of you. This is so hauntingly familiar, given Eric’s stroke three years ago. I am here for you!

  9. Stephanie, I am shocked to read about Ray. I just saw him last week in the cafe at Roche and we chatted about work and of course you and your beautiful kids. I am praying for his recovery and for strength for you and your family as you navigate the upcoming days.

  10. Stephanie,

    My sister Stephanie (Satterthwaite) Hanouw sent me your blog post. I simply thought she was sharing a post of someone needing prayers and wanted me to include “Ray”. She also is a writer and I inquired is her site name had changed. She informed me that this was YOUR blog and that this was Raymond (I have never heard him called just Ray. 🙂 ) was Aunt Mary’s son. Oh my goodness! I simply had no idea as I don’t believe I have ever had the pleasure of meeting you and your children and I think the last time I saw Raymond was when he was quite young. Count on my prayers to be added to the many others. I will be lifting up Ray and all of your family at church tomorrow. We live in Colfax… so I should make it a point to come and introduce myself. Another time. So lovely you have such a richly blessed support system to surround you and yours especially at such a difficult time. God is good all the time.

  11. Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you. Isaiah 54:10
    I love you and wish I could do more for you than quote Bible verses, but I know you are drawing on the strength of our Lord and these words will speak to you in ways I can not!
    Stephanie K

  12. Laura Tesdahl notified many people today about Ray (email for pray request).
    Many of your St Malachy family are praying for Ray, you, the kids and the whole family.
    I pray you can feel the loving Presence and Peace of Christ surrounding you.

    1. Thank you, Peggy. I do feel Christ’s presence, and I feel the strength of everyone’s prayers. I’m so blessed to have been a part of the St. Malachy community and to still have such wonderful friends there. Thank you for your prayers.

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