“Chris, is that you?”
“Yes. I need help.”
“I’m on the way,” he responds. “I’ll make some calls first.”
Hearing a family member’s voice infuses a bit of strength back into her shattered soul. She remembers the phone number for her husband’s father. “Mr. Wills, please hurry, John has been shot,” she blurts out.
A nurse barges into the room. “Mrs. Wills?”
“I need you to sign these papers allowing us to operate on your husband and administer blood as needed.” Signing without seeing she hands the papers back to the nurse. “Come with me, I’ll take you to see your husband.”
The ER is filled with uniforms - cops, doctors, nurses - all talking at once and moving in ten different directions. The nurse leads her to a curtain that she quickly pulls aside. “You have a couple of minutes.”
Tubes, monitors, discarded bloody swabs, his torn, bloodied uniform shirt lying on the floor - among all of it: her husband. He sees her. “Sorry, Honey, I didn’t mean for this to happen,” he sheepishly says.
“But what happened . . . how?”
The doctor walks up and interrupts. “Are you the wife?”
“We’re going to get him stabilized first and then operate in about five hours. Go home and come back later. He’s going to go to sleep right now.” In just a few seconds, he closes his eyes after the doctor administers the drug.
The nurse leads her out to where the detectives are waiting. They take her home where she showers and makes arrangements for the babies to be watched while she stays by his side at the hospital. Her home is filled with people - family, neighbors, cops - no time to visit. She’s driven, knows the task that lies ahead.
Hours later she waits outside the OR and recalls the verse from Jeremiah 29:11: For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. She sees the doctor approaching. Lord, give us time to carry out those plans.
Holding her breath, she waits for the doctor to speak. “Your husband will be fine. The bullet is lodged near the aorta; I’m not taking it out for fear of damaging the artery. The wound in the leg won’t be a problem, it passed right through. He’ll be a little sore - it nicked the shin bone - but he’ll be alright.” She breathes.
Several hours later they move her husband to a semi-private room to recover. She heads back home to tend to the babies while he awakes fully from the anesthesia. Before she can return to the hospital a uniformed cop knocks on her front door.
“Mrs. Wills, your husband received a threatening phone call at the hospital. It seems the man he killed was a gang member, now they’ve threatened to kill him and his family. Keep your blinds closed and don’t let your kids out to play. We’ve set up a 24 hour protection detail at the hospital and here at your house.” That bodyguard detail would follow the family’s every move for more than a month.
Back at the hospital her husband is moved to a private room with a Chicago police officer stationed outside the door. The first visitor at the protected bunker is his father. “Son, thank God you’re okay. We’ve been so worried.”
“I know, Dad, thanks. I’ll be back on my feet in no time.”
“I’m sure you will, you’ve always been a tough kid. But I worry about all of this . . . and now a police guard?”
“It’s just a precaution, Dad.”
Ten months later his father would be dead, it seemed to him his Dad had aged twenty years from the time the shooting occurred until his death.
Chris’ husband would eventually be discharged, but the nightmare would not end just yet. Now began the torturous sleepless nights and paranoia about gang members breaking into their home, leading him to install multiple locks, even on inside doors. He would order his wife to take one of his guns and shoot anyone who came through the door.