Did I Survive to Serve Others?

By Gordon F

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For 131 days I thought I was going to die. Everyone around expected me to. For some time my brain functioned only partially. When I finally left the hospital, I weighed only 107 pounds; I couldn’t sit up, roll over, walk, or even feed myself. My short term memory was practically gone. Anyone who came to visit had to fully suit up in medical gowns, gloves and mask.

What had brought me to this? My wife and I had been out in the morning when my leg started to drag. By the end of the day I could not lift my left leg over the right one. We went to the hospital and they diagnosed, through a series of scans that I had a large tumor in my brain that had been growing over the last twenty years. Immediately, I was taken by ambulance to a neuro-trauma hospital and had surgery within a few days.

Originally the surgery had gone very well, so well in fact I had been cleared to travel outside the country in a month. Ten days later, I started having problems. Over the next few months doctors treated me for 18 separate diagnosable problems. Those had caused me an extended stay in the hospital—131 days.

During this difficult time I never questioned whether my Heavenly Father had abandoned me. I have always had a close relationship with my earthly father, and for this reason, it was much easier for me to understand and love my Heavenly Father and to know He loved me. I did ponder many things, though: what I had been taught, what my family would do without me, and what death would feel like. Despite all these thoughts, I never doubted whether His spirit was nearby. I spoke with Him often through prayer.

He made it apparent to me at one point that I was given the opportunity to choose whether I would live or die. I could move on, leave this world and return to be with Him and those of my family who had already died. He also let me know I could choose to stay alive. If I chose to live, I would go through a long period of recuperation; it would be painful and difficult; it would be a further learning experience. I understood there were specific people I could help. I chose to live. Because of this sacred event, however, I started to say prayers differently. I began asking, “How can I help these specific people?”

I learned many lessons as a result of my health trials and came away with an appreciation and a greater understanding of my Savior’s role and love for me and all His children. He is vitally concerned about each of those children. He knows each of them by name, and as a great man, Spencer W. Kimball, said, “God does watch over us and does notice us, but it is usually through someone else that He meets our needs.”

I’m grateful I chose not to die. I believe I have been able be the means of helping others overcome their difficulties in life. I believe this is how the Savior wants me to use my life: directed in service to my fellow man and in His service as He tends to His children.

[This photo is actually Gordon F. with his wife during his hospital stay.]

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