The oldest girls and I had a nice chat the other night about my recent visit to St. Sebastian, my prayers for Emma's healing, and all the events surrounding my visit there. It was nice to be able to share with them how God wants to have a relationship with us, and how He is there for us always. He comforts us when we need it most, and showers us with blessings.
As we chatted, it reminded me of another story I'd written/shared long before this blog ever came to be, and involved my oldest daughter Alice. It was my first attempt at writing anything since college days. A little lengthy, but hope you enjoy it.
My Angel Story (written December, 2002)
I’ve read several books about angels lately. You know the kind...people giving personal accounts of their experience with the heavenly hosts. ( Easy reading to help pass time working the night shift.) Over and over the books tell me that all of us have probably experienced the presence of angels, however may have not allowed ourselves to notice or accept their true identity. I wondered about this. I racked my brain and still could not come up with any past experience in which I’d mistaken one of these Divine beings. Although, while pregnant with the twins I was sure that the Schwann’s man, delivering that chocolate chip cookie dough I so loved, was in fact a messenger from God! But no, I had no solid evidence. Anyhow, I made a mental note to try to be more open to the idea that I too, could one day be graced by their presence.
After reading the passages in these books, I began to think more and more about my angel and how he or she would appear to me. Would I wake up from a deep sleep to be greeted by some glowing, winged beauty? Maybe while I was driving along the road to work one night, I’d pass some stranger standing in the side ditch who would wink at me and I would just know this was a signal that my angel’s there watching over me. I started looking for an angel peering over my shoulder, or standing in the corner of the living room as all 3 kids were screaming “Elmo!”, “Pee!”, “Bah, Bah!” The cries come out in unison. No angel. Apparently they too have a sense of humor.
Anyhow, I’ve recently discovered that angels don’t always appear to us as something witnessed in a beautiful Michelangelo painting. Sometimes God sends us a messenger of hope in the form of someone we already know, who happens to be in the right place at the right time, comforting us with answers we desperately needed to hear, making it all to easy to believe that it must have just been coincidence. I don’t think this was. This is my angel story.
I think the fear that a mom experiences when her child is sick or hurting is one unlike any I’ve ever known before. It intertwines the same selfish fears we have for ourselves, with worry for the health and safety of this miracle you’ve given birth to. It can be difficult to maintain the strength it requires to keep the household running smoothly without letting everyone and everything become affected by what’s going on. I mean if mom “loses it,” how can anyone else be expected to keep it all together.
This was my situation when just weeks before Christmas 2001, we found that our nearly 2 year old daughter was spotting blood in her diapers. This was something she’d gone through earlier in the year, and something we thought had been resolved, when in August she had surgery to remove a cervical polyp. The final report then had been “benign.” Doctors had told us that this was a “fluke” thing that would not recur and gave us no reason to worry any further, until now. Suddenly holiday planning was put on the back burner, so we could go through all the same tests and more, to determine what was causing the bleeding this time.
The same surgery was planned to determine if there was in fact another polyp, and to remove it if necessary. Our doctor’s office staff made all the necessary arrangements, but unfortunately scheduled it for the wrong hospital. While her previous surgery had been done at Kettering, we thought from our heart, that she would receive much better care at Children’s, where they were more in tune to kids. (While at Kettering for the first surgery, the nurses seemed quite unprepared to deal with a baby. They admitted to us that they were expecting an 18 year old instead of an 18 month old. They had trouble getting her vital signs with the equipment available to them, and even fudged a few numbers to get there reports completed prior to surgery.) It wasn’t a problem to schedule it at Children’s, we were told, as our doctor did procedures at both facilities. On Wednesday before Alice’s surgery, I called the office to see how the rescheduling process was going. I was shocked and very disappointed when I was told by the nurse that, without reason, the surgery had to be done at Kettering. The doctor insisted it be done there. I hung up the phone.
Angry, confused, disappointed, baffled really, I didn’t know what to do next. Did I trust this doctor enough to keep our appointment at Kettering? We’d only dealt with him a few times, and had no personal referrals to him. He was, after all, a urologist and we weren’t even sure if this was the best place to be for this kind of problem. (Originally doctors suspected Alice’s bleeding was kidney-related, which led us to this man.) All the worst scenarios of what could go wrong kept spinning through my head. All the self-doubt and fear that we weren’t doing the best thing for our daughter just tore me apart. So while the kids were napping and John was at work, I finally lost it. I sobbed and prayed for what turned out to be an hour or better. All I could do was ask God to let me know we were doing the best we could. Should I insist on Children’s Hospital? Should I look for a new doctor who understood my concerns? Should we be seeing a different kind of specialist all together? Is there such a thing as a gynecologist for children? I kept thinking that sometimes we only get one chance to make the right decisions, and I didn’t want to look back on this years from now and say we should have done things differently. I didn’t want something to go terribly wrong and feel like we could have prevented it.
I can’t say I had any revelation as to the right answer. I never became completely comfortable with our decision to stick it out as scheduled at Kettering. Nevertheless, we kept our appointment and hoped it was the right thing to do. Looking back, I realize that when you give things up to God, he always comes through.
Alice went through her surgery as expected. (Kicking and screaming the whole way!) The nurses tell me that she was awake from the anesthesia before she even arrived in the recovery room. I’m not sure how they expected her to act when she woke up, but she was immediately hollering for her “Momma” and “Daddy” and would settle for no less. They allowed me in to hold her and try to calm her wild screams as she slowly became oriented. While rocking her, I was surprised to see a very familiar face coming our way. Dr. Lisa (Bohman) Egbert had heard Alice’s screaming and thought she might be able to help. She too seemed quite surprised to see us. We chatted a little about what brought us in, and she apologized that she had to meet with a family about one of her patients.
Back in the outpatient surgery department, and finally out of the recovery room, we were pleasantly surprised again to see Lisa, this time with our doctor, when he came to discuss the outcome of Alice’s procedure. Lisa had sought out Alice’s doctor, consulted with him about the case and his findings in her surgery, and confirmed his opinion about what he had found. After our doctor left, she stayed a few more minutes and gave even more insight into Alice’s condition, reassuring us that things would be ok. How lucky, I thought to have a second opinion in the case.
It wasn’t until our ride home that I realized it was much more than luck that brought Lisa to us. As we drove home that evening in the dark and rain, it hit me like a brick what a miracle had just taken place. This was the angel I’d been waiting for. Although Lisa might disagree, I have no doubt in my mind that she was there in that recovery room, at that exact time, by the sheer grace of God. She was there to answer every prayer that I’d asked of Him on Wednesday. How else could it be explained that we would run into a doctor friend, someone we trusted, an OB/GYN no less, at a hospital we weren’t supposed to be at. And that she would, unbeknownst to us, seek out our doctor, consult with him, and provide such comfort to us with her words. The diagnosis would have been the same whether she had been there or not, but it was the reassurance she provided that is what God knew I needed. Many would say it was good luck to see Lisa there. I might have thought that not so long ago too, but I know in my heart that God’s ways are not so mysterious, if we allow ourselves to be open to them. Some might call it coincidence, I don’t think so. I think this is my angel story. Thank you Lisa for following your heart to that baby’s cry.