I’m Sorry to Call You with This News on Christmas Eve

JS called Saturday morning to let them know that he was sick to his stomach and couldn’t make it that night. Like Lauren, he was a type 1 diabetic. Sunday, he did not show for church, and Lauren told the man to call him. He did and got only voicemail. Monday was the day of Christmas Eve.

“Try him again,” Lauren told him.

“I will. And if he doesn’t answer, I will go over after shopping with Grant and Bopa.”

Now the man is at Waterford Village, the apartment complex in Bridgewater where JS lives by himself. JS’s car is cold and frosted over. Does not appear to have been driven in days. The man stops at the mailboxes at the bottom of the stairs. Mail is spilling from JS’s spot. The man goes up to the door and pounds off and on for two minutes. He swings back to his car.

“Bopa, I have to get the apartment manager. I think JS is in trouble.”

He drives to the apartment office, finds the manager. “Hey, my buddy lives in apartment 211. No one has heard from him in days. He’s a diabetic. I think he might be in trouble.”

“Want me to open it up and see?”

“If you wouldn’t mind.”

They go back to the apartment. The manager inserts a master key, turns, and the door swings open. JS is lying in the middle of the living room floor. He is twitching and moaning, but unconscious.

The manager lifts his walkie talkie. The new fire station is three minutes away, and the man hears sirens almost immediately. He whips out his cell and dials Lauren.

“Hey, babe. He’s unconscious on the floor. Paramedics are on the way. Can you come get Bopa and Grant? I need to follow to the hospital.”

“Sure. On my way.”

Now, the paramedics are here, checking vitals and loading him to a stretcher.

“You family?”

“His minister from church. He’s a diabetic. He’s either in ketoacidosic shock, or his blood sugar has crashed and he’s in a coma.”

One of the paramedics tests JS’s blood as they hook him to IVs. The paramedic hands the tester to the man. It says simply, “Hi.”

“Ketoacidosis,” says the man. “His blood sugar is more than 600.”

“Let’s roll him, boys,” the head medic says.

“Where are you taking him?”

“Brockton Hospital.”

“Ok. I’ll follow.”

As they lead JS out of the building, the man finds JS’s cellphone. It has a tiny charge left. He scrolls through the address book until he finds a woman’s name with the same last name as JS. He taps the number into his own phone and heads to his car. While he follows the ambulance, he dials the number.

A woman’s voice: “Hello?”

“Hi, this is Gordon Laws, JS’s bishop. I’m trying to reach JS’s mother or father.”

“I’m his sister but my parents are right here.”

A moment later, a man with a Cache Valley accent says, “Hello?”

“Brother S, this is Gordon Laws. I’m JS’s bishop. I’m sorry to call you with this news on Christmas Eve, but I am following an ambulance carrying your son to Brockton Hospital. He didn’t come to church or answer his phone all day, so we got the apartment manager to open his door. He’s in ketoacidosic shock.”

There’s a long pause, and then Brother S says, “Well, Bishop, I believe you have saved our son’s life.”

“My wife is a type 1 diabetic. She’s been worried about him for two days.”

Two hours later, the ER doctor will tell the man that JS’s blood sugar was 1100 upon admission, that he was two to eight hours from dying, but that everything is managed now and the man can go home.

When he arrives home, Lauren and his mother in law are assembling a doll house for the girls, the kids are in bed, and a plate of cold Chinese food awaits him.

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