While end of life decisions were being spelt out by critical care specialists to Jessie Coleman of Wanganui on February 22, her husband, Michael, was on the brink of death.

Michael and Jessie Coleman.
Michael and Jessie Coleman.

That was not how they had planned their day or where they intended to be.
On that Sunday they were planning to go to St Mary’s parish in Taradale for the first of four weekly preparation sessions in the Ignatian First Spiritual Exercises retreat.
Waking up with stomach pains and worsening by the minute, Mr Coleman was rushed to hospital. By 7am a CT scan had confirmed that he had an abdominal aortic aneurysm. He was immediately prepared for surgery and the family and parish priest Fr Brian Carmine were quickly summoned.
After several hours in theatre and 36 units of blood, Mr Coleman was coming around in recovery, being told by the surgeon that the operation was over and everything was working as it should.
However, at 3am the next day, the family were recalled following two cardiac arrests. The doctor explained that it was possible he could have more, risking permanent brain damage.
“He may not be the person he used to be, with memory loss, and the difficult task is to do what he would want us to do. Would he want us to bring him back if he was so damaged?” he said.
What they didn’t realise was that Mr Coleman could hear every word! He was unable to tell them to let him go because an oxygen tube was down his throat.
“I tried to nod my head,” he said later, “and my daughter saw this, which encouraged the staff greatly. I turned my mind to the Lord, praying, ‘Thy will be done, O Lord. If I am to come to you today, then please show me the way, guide me.’”
He looked for the long tunnel of light that people have spoken about. But all he could see was a huge black wall. Yet he felt enveloped in a glorious peace.
“From deep within me, and not through my ears, I heard a voice. ‘Not now Michael, not now, not now.’ I hope that I will never forget that gentle, loving, soft masculine voice. It was, I am sure, the voice of the Lord.”
From that moment, he knew he was going to pull through.
Next morning he was introduced to the new shift as the miracle boy. Three weeks later he was home.
This couple quickly point to their parish community for their amazing love and support. “It was knowing people were there, and when people offered their help, I knew they meant it,” Mrs Coleman said.
Mr Coleman said that after that experience, for several weeks he would ponder on the words from John 14:2-3. And he knows, he said, that through sin we reject Jesus, but Jesus will never reject or abandon us.
Before his emergency, Mr Coleman was struck by a quote from Julian of Norwich that says that nothing exists that God cannot, and does not, turn to our good.
“She says, ‘All will be well, and all will be well. And every manner of thing will be well.’ I firmly believe that now,” Mr Coleman said.