* this was an article I wrote for a magazine several years ago:
It was the year 1981 and my brother Doug was at
the end of his rope. His life had become a viscous circle of work, drink, work, drink, work and more drink. One weekend while visiting him, I realized he looked like a prisoner in a concentration camp. I knew he needed help, but I was just a university student, barely twenty years
old; what could I do? Even though I didn't know exactly what I was supposed to do, I packed my bags and moved into his house. He
was my elder brother, but I figured he needed my help.
Have you lived with an alcoholic? It’s not pleasant. He wasn’t a happy
drunk, that’s for sure. There were too many nights that I came home from University, driving over an hour on a crowded freeway, to find him passed
out on the floor with vomit framing his face. I thought I was there to
help. I wanted to be a hero; but there was nothing heroic about walking
in on a half naked, elder brother passed out on the floor. I became
One day I was asked to take a friend to the airport. On my way back
from LAX, I decided that I didn’t want to go ‘home’ that night. I had
enough. I would keep driving straight down to Costa Mesa and
stay with one of my many friends. Just the thought of being able to
escape to a friend’s house made me smile.
The radio was blaring Christopher Cross’ song “Ride like the Wind,” and I
was planning to drive as fast as I could and be free again. When I drove
past the exit for Lomita, I felt something inside me urge me to go
‘home.’ I refused to listen to the urging; instead, I leaned
forward turning up the volume on the radio and continued driving.
An audible voice instructing me to return home reverberated through the car. I almost lost control of the car as it
swerved irratically across the freeway. My heart pounded furiously and my mouth went dry. The voice
only came once, but it scared me so badly that I turned off at the next
exit and circled back around on the freeway. I still didn’t feel like
going home, but I knew I had no choice.
When I pulled into the driveway, I noticed the house sat in darkness. It seemed odd to see the front door slightly ajar. I figured that my brother was up to his
old tricks again. He probably had gotten drunk before it got dark and
forgot to turn on the lights. Once inside the house, an eerie
feeling wrapped around my heart. The light switch was across the room and as I
walked towards it, I was wondering if someone had possibly broken into
the house and that is why the door was ajar.
I quickly glanced in Doug’s room, but no one was there. I walked
towards my room and as I passed the bathroom I caught sight of someone
crouching inside. My body flipped around the wall that separated the
bedroom from the bathroom. My back flew smack up against the wall.
My pounding heart made it difficult for me to think. I tried
to swallow but my mouth was too dry. The more I breathed, the drier my
mouth got. I stood glued to that wall for what felt like an eternity,
but it was only a few seconds. I mustered up a little courage and
yelled, “Alright, I see you! You better come out whoever you are!!”
I whipped around the corner and pushed
the bathroom door open. It jammed up against the person slouched on the
floor. It was only then that I realized it was my brother, Doug.
Reaching forward, I touched his shoulder and he fell backwards. He
almost crushed me as his deadweight fell on me. I put my hands under his
arms and dragged him out of the toilet area and into the hallway. I had
seen him passed out before, but somehow I knew this was different. I
pushed him, I yelled at him, I even hit his chest, but no matter what I
did he did not respond.
Reaching for the phone, my fingers dialed 911. Before I knew it, paramedics and policemen
swarmed the house. They shoved me aside and began working on my
brother. Everything swirled around me. It felt like a nightmare, and
yet when I pinched myself I knew I was very much awake. One of the officers asked me what kind of drugs he had taken. I was
not helpful at all, not because I didn’t want to help but because I
didn’t know the first thing about drugs.
The paramedics attempted to bring him out of his unconscious state but they were unable to do so. They communicated with the hospital and before I knew what was happening, they were out the
door. I have always thought that paramedics are supposed to assure you that
everything is going to be okay. This group of paramedics didn’t get that
memo. They let me know that things were not going well.
at the house to call my parents, who were traveling back from Singapore. I went into auto pilot. I called my sisters and my other brother. It was 2 a.m., I
called the pastor of the church I had just started attending. He prayed a
quick prayer over the phone and then hung up. I put down the phone and
stared at it wondering what I was going to do next. I knew I had to go
to the hospital to see how Doug was, but I really wanted someone to go
with me. That is when I decided to call Karen Fick, she was the young adult's pastor’s wife
of the church I attended before moving to Lomita. She lived all the way
down in Westminster that was around a 40 minute drive.
When she heard what had happened she said, “Don’t move, I’m coming right now!”
Somehow she made that 40 minute drive in 30 minutes. Right before she arrived, the hospital called
to tell me that my brother had gone into distress. When we got to the
hospital I was told that he had stopped breathing and they had to
resuscitate him. They were able to revive him, but he was still
After a couple days, he finally regained consciousness. I was allowed to go in and see him. I
walked into the I.C.U. room and tears sprang up in my eyes. He looked
like an alien with his body hooked up to tubes and machines. I
could see he wanted to say something, so I leaned towards him. His
voice was weak. He whispered, “They tell me …you…saved my life.”
I smiled, and patted his arm, very pleased with myself, “Well, yes, I guess so.”
“Why? Why did you do it?”
My head jerked back as if he had slapped me. I frowned and leaned forward again,
maybe I hadn’t heard him correctly the first time. He continued, “Why didn’t you just let me
Poor guy, his life was so miserable at that point, he just wanted to
die. Tears welled up in my eyes. I had nothing to say. I patted his arm
and said, “I love you.”
Today, more than 30 years later, his life has totally turned around. He is a missionary. He
has a lovely wife and a handsome son. He
lives his life for others. Doug is one of the most giving people I know. He
never gives up on anyone. He always goes the extra mile when he is
helping someone. When I see his life today, I’m so thankful for the
divine intervention on the freeway in California in 1981. Even though Doug thought he wanted to die... he had so much more to give by living.