This week, after nearly losing my youngest daughter, I had some time to ponder some alternative meanings of the word: non sequitur. According to, a non sequitur is “the attempted connection of two things in a sentence that have nothing to do with each other.” Translated from the Latin, not sequitur means, “does not follow.” It is where we get the word “sequence.”

Specifically, her safe return from a holiday visit on the East Coast “did not follow” her arrival there. I know it may not sound like a non sequitur, but I think it does, because the purchase of a round-trip ticket had nothing to do with ensuring the return leg of the trip.

A week before Thanksgiving, I got a call from a small town clinic telling me that my daughter had a virus. “And by the way,” my daughter asks “Can you send cash for the prescriptions?” The improvement that followed the granting of the request was very much in the sequence I expected.

Two days later, she walks in for a follow-up visit. Again, it is kind of a non sequitur because her decent appearance has no relation to the poor numbers that came back from the lab. The visit brings a second call informing me that she has been transferred to Medical University South Carolina in Charleston with liver and kidney failure.

Using the refund from her “non-refundable” airline ticket, my wife and I flew to South Carolina. Sometimes the purchase of an airline ticket has no relation to caring attitude, but not so at Southwest Airlines. (Shout-outs to “Sam,” employee No. 87199, and her supervisor for the exceptions.)

Twenty-four sleepless hours later, we were standing at my daughter’s bedside talking non sequitur again. The doctor said it doesn’t logically follow that a 20-year-old girl, negative for rare diseases or narcotics, would lose the functions of her kidneys and liver.

And as of the moment I write this column, her kidneys are still completely shut down, but her liver function has returned to normal levels. The doctors have put a catheter in her neck where she is receiving dialysis. Dialysis is expected to be temporary, but doctors still don’t know what caused the multiple organ failure or whether it will recur.

I’m always telling people they shouldn’t accept medical advice from a chaplain, but this I do know: Liver failure means death without a transplant. My little girl, the one we moved 3,000 miles to adopt when she was 3 years old, the one I taught to ride a bike, the one I drove to her first dance, was closer to heaven than I like to see any loved one get without me.

As this year comes to a close, it’s easy for me to number the difficulties our family has encountered. My wife lost a mother. I lost a stepfather. I’ve been deployed, and my wife was displaced in her job. Some would say that to continue walking in faith after all that makes no sense; that it is a non sequitur. But I know in all my shortcomings and failures, God has not given up on me. Nor will he. And, that is the most amazing non sequitur of all.

Norris Burkes is a syndicated columnist, national speaker and author of No Small Miracles. He also serves as an Air National Guard chaplain and is board certified in the Association of Professional Chaplains. You can call 321-549-2500, email, visit website or write him at P.O. Box 247, Elk Grove, CA 95759.