Saturday, May 12, 2012

Life and Near-Death at the WPC Commencement (Updated)

New photos added on 6/28/12

Here’s a riddle:  On what special occasion would I get an opportunity to both celebrate and help prevent each of two major life events?  Why, being a speaker at Warner Pacific’s commencement ceremony, of course!
Commencement photo from Warner Pacific's Facebook page

Last Saturday, as I waited for my cue to give my Alumni Council President speech to the Class of 2012, I subconsciously noticed that something was wrong with the man sitting next to me.
At first, I thought he had merely dozed off during the first hour of the ceremony.  Now, a week later, I’m still kicking myself for not paying closer attention to how slumped over his posture was gradually becoming.  The man appeared to have stopped breathing.  His adult son, sitting behind him, was speaking quietly but urgently into his ear.  There was no response.
The two of us pulled the man out of his seat and briefly laid him down in the aisle.  We can’t let his niece see him like this,” the son pleaded to me as we each grabbed one of his arms.  
We both carefully dragged his lifeless body outside the auditorium and gently laid him back down in the hallway.
The man’s son sprang into action, performing chest compressions on his father as we waited for the paramedics to show up.  As I knelt down beside him, I laid my hands on his torso and closed my eyes.  A witness said she heard the man attempting to speak (That would've been an encouraging sign, although I was inches away and never heard a sound.)  I never even caught the man’s name.  [Update: His name is Howard, and his condition stabilized after I went back inside and the paramedics took him away.]

I may never know if my prayers for his resuscitation were answered that morning.  Shortly after the paramedics took over, I slipped back into the auditorium to cheer loudly as my several of my friends received their diplomas.  

As Dr. Cole Dawson introduced me, I shook off my rattled nerves and ran up to the podium to unleash my inspirational (I hope!) WP Alumni Association welcome speech to the graduates. Subdued, soft spoken, and mannered I was not.  Is it a cop out to blame my Braveheart-style delivery on the adrenaline?

Congratulations, Class of 2012!!!  Mike, Dante, Brian... never mind, I won't even try to list all of the people that I was excited to see graduate this year.  Your hard work paid off!

By the way, please join me in prayer for the recovery of my seatmate.  Thanks to the quick response of his son and the paramedics, I feel optimistic that he made it through.

And just for fun…
Here are a few pictures from this year’s 82nd Avenue of Roses parade, with WPC mascot Knightro riding along in the backseat of my Jeep Wrangler:
Cruisin’ in the Jeep with Katie and Knightro

Micah charms the crowds along the parade route

82nd Ave of Roses Parade.JPG
Thanks for texting me this group shot, Traci!

No comments: