“The Boy Who Lived”

The other night, our son Joel was sitting outside on the porch with his eldest child, our grandson Cameron. Suddenly, a bolt of lightning landed dangerously close to them. The two raced to safety inside. Cameron turned to his father and said, “You know, Dad, we’re going to have to call you ‘the boy who lived.’”

In truth, our son has had his share of near-death experiences. When he was a college student delivering pizzas, he was kidnapped and held at gunpoint by a guy hopped up on drugs who was accompanied by one of his friends. The robber ordered Joel into the backseat of my son’s car and drove him around to ATMs where he forced him to empty his bank accounts. When the robber momentarily got out of the car to go to an ATM inside a gas station, his friend turned to my son and said, “He’s crazy. He’s gonna kill you, man. We got to get outta here.” Joel jumped into the driver’s seat, and they took off. The robber’s friend had my son drop him off several blocks away, but not before he asked him if he had twenty bucks he could spare!

Fast forward several years to earlier this summer when my adventurous son was climbing a mountain in Mexico. He was having a wonderful time and had gotten up to about 17,000 feet. And then, trying to move to a place where he could rest, he took a bad fall. Three other climbers eventually heard his cries of help and went to his rescue. Together, they managed to get him down the mountain where he was transported to the hospital.

Miraculously, his older brother Ed was in Mexico on business at the time and rushed across the country to his bedside. Ed got him transferred to a private hospital where Joel underwent emergency surgery, first on his neck and then on his fractured, dislocated ribs. He still suffers from some dizziness and will need months of physical therapy.

But he’s alive! And as he said to us several times, “I really thought I was going to die.”

He could have. And to the relief of his devoted wife, children, older brother, and us as his parents, he’s announced that his mountain climbing days are over.

Of course, there could always be an unexpected bolt of lightning that takes him out. But at least for now, he remains “the boy who lived.”

And for that, we are incredibly grateful.

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