Recently I learned of a young man named Joshua and of his fight to recover from a horrific car accident. His grandmother, Julie Grimstad, founder of the Healthcare Advocacy and Leadership Organization, wrote:
Joshua was in a horrific car accident and suffered a traumatic brain injury. In the aftermath, my family experienced firsthand the tremendous value of HALO and the extensive knowledge within its ranks.
The back of Joshua’s skull was crushed, and part of his brainstem—the pons—was deprived of oxygen. The pons carries signals from the brain to the body and vice versa. Two weeks after Joshua’s injury, he was still unresponsive. A neurosurgeon told his father and me that his condition was irreversible—he would never recover. Due to experience with other brain-injured patients and my tenure with HALO, I knew that as long as there is life, there is hope.
Julie called in a trusted physician and asked for his advice. The encouragement the family received from him made all the difference. Joshua’s family, especially his mother, never left him alone. And eventually Joshua began responding. Today he is at home participating in a rehabilitation program where he is learning to speak, swallow, and use his limbs. He is walking on a treadmill and using a computer, all because members of his family believed in the power of prayer, ethical medical practice, and love.
This tragedy is a beautiful example of how God uses human beings to draw out goodness even in the midst of a tragic situation. As many of us know, the love of family is always the best medicine.
Joshua’s family exhibits that love in such a powerful way. And this love of family reminds me that Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen used to say “God love you” to his listeners. In his case, he meant it in a way that is nearly impossible to describe in words. But perhaps these words explain why I think Sheen would have embraced Joshua and his family:
I have always addressed you as friends, and you know that unseen friends are sometimes the best friends. To say ‘my friends’, would be to claim a privilege. But friends are the expression of a hope, a hope that by listening to me, I may, with traitorous trueness and with loyal deceit, betray you into the hands of the God of Love and Mercy.
Through his words and actions, Archbishop Sheen encouraged countless souls to love the Lord and His teachings. Each person is an individual human being whose heart and soul were awakened to the love of God. It is that kind of love for human beings, shared one to another, that defines what it means to affirm life no matter the cost.
Just as Sheen loved his audience into an awareness of the tenderness of God, so did Joshua’s family love him into getting better. Every person—born and preborn—is indeed precious!