Andy Pettitte and his wife, Laura, were en route from Houston to Dallas for what they thought was going to be their final goodbye to Laura’s father.
Both of her parents were battling COVID-19, but her mother’s situation looked far more optimistic. After weeks of consulting with doctors, they’d made the decision that they were going have nurses shut off her father’s ventilator after they were able to come to the hospital and say their final goodbye.
Everything changed with one phone call.
“As we’re on the phone here in Houston, the doctor throws the phone down and we didn’t know what happened,” Pettitte said this week on the Get in the Game Podcast. “The chaplain comes and gets on the phone and says, ‘Laura, your mom just went into cardiac arrest.'”
While they were prepared to say goodbye to her father, they weren’t prepared to lose both of them within a couple hours of each other.
That marked the beginning of what’s been a particularly trying season for Pettitte and his family. After losing both of her parents in late December, they also lost several members of their church family and a longtime babysitter.
Then, just a couple months later, Pettitte was in a car accident with his wife and daughter. He and his daughter suffered concussions while Laura broke her arm. It’s been “a whole lot of darkness, it seems like,” he said.
“We haven’t had a whole lot of loss in our life. We haven’t seen a whole lot of death,” Pettitte said. “That’s been a real, real hard time for me and my wife, especially my wife. The grieving process, I’ve never really seen anything like it and we’ve never had to deal with it. I don’t know what to do.
“I’m asking God daily, ‘How can I help her to give her a peace?’ We know her parents are in Heaven.”
Pettitte has found himself marinating on Mark 4, the story of Jesus being on the boat with His disciples and waves are crashing over the boat. Jesus is asleep at the stern, unbothered by the perils around Him, yet the disciples are scared and wondering why Jesus isn’t.
Pettitte said he’s recently felt a lot like the disciples on the boat.
“They were like, ‘Don’t you care, Jesus, that we’re going to die?'” Pettitte said. “A lot of times, when I was reading those verses, I was reading my Bible and kind of thinking to myself, ‘God, don’t you care that my wife’s struggling so badly right now? How about giving her a little relief? How about giving her something to smile about? It just seems like it’s been one bad thing after another.’
“You don’t realize sometimes the stuff that God’s really doing and the way He’s working behind the scenes.”
In that story, God gets up and commands the wind and waves to settle.
“As I was walking through some of this stuff, I feel like God was telling me to be calm and to be still,” Pettitte said. “He is working and He is in control.”
That perspective has allowed Andy and Laura to find some comfort in processing the grief over the deaths of her parents. It was evident that neither of them wanted to be alive without the other, Andy said. Laura was agonizing over having to break the news to her mother that her husband had died.
“I feel like God allowed that to happen,” Pettitte said. “The one thing that they were so worried about, her mom having to hear those words — she didn’t have to hear it. God took her before He took her dad.”
Pettitte said going through this season has made him more equipped to serve others who will eventually experience similar seasons.
“God puts us through trials,” he said. “He gives us pain, I believe, so we can use that to help others. That goes back to … serving and trying to figure out what you can do for others. We are in a culture and a world that’s so ‘promote yourself, think about yourself, whatever you can do to lift yourself up.’ That’s so far away from what God’s Word tells us to do.”
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