A CHILD OF THE HEART
by Judy W..........................................
A CHILD OF THE HEART
From the window I am watching the rain. At times the rain beats very hard while at other times it is gently soaking the thirsty ground. I know in my heart that at some point the sun will come out and things will be better. Never the same but better. I also know that at times we need a good soaking so that life in all respects can grow and be strong for the storms of life that come along, however; I was never expecting the storm we were about to experience.
It was Thursday, February 23, 2006, very early in the afternoon. I received a phone call from my husband, Jim, informing me that our daughter Amy collapsed at work due to some sort of seizure. She was being flown by helicopter to UT Medical Center. His voice was very serious and I could hear the gravity of his words. Helicopter? Did I hear him correctly? As we live two hours away there was no time to waste. We quickly packed a few things and were on our way with hazard blinkers flashing. We traveled as quickly as we could and still be safe. We spoke with our other daughters Heather and Deanna several times during that trip trying to cope, trying to reassure each other.
We arrived at UT Medical Center at the same time as our daughter Heather. She and Amy were not only sisters, but also best friends. We went upstairs together and joined the girls' mother, Ellen and her husband, Jim along with Amy's husband Steve as well as other family members.
When we were finally able to see Amy in ICU, she was connected to an array of IV's and machines. Even though she was 31 with a family of her own, she was still that same sweet little girl under those covers... fighting for her life.
Our worst fears were becoming a reality. Amy had indeed collapsed at work due to a seizure of some sort. She had been deprived of oxygen for at least seven to eight minutes and was already on life support and was in a coma.
We stayed at the hospital until almost 12:00 midnight. The doctors assured us that nothing was going to change overnight. They told everyone to get some rest and we would see what the next day brought.
We had no time to make arrangements for our little dog, Smokey. Fortunately there was a motel close by. We explained why we were checking in so late. By the grace of the Lord the motel allowed pets, yet another of His many blessings.
When Jim and I got into our room we tried to settle in a bit. Not much sleep was to be had that night as Jim and I held each other and cried and prayed. Many phone calls were made to friends and relatives to keep them updated.
We were cold with fear, out of our minds with worry, both knowing what was coming but not saying it aloud until my Jim brought it out in the open...sooner or later they would have to take her off life support.
Exhausted and so torn with emotions we tried to rest. I awoke early the next morning. We were in for a long day and perhaps a long night so I immediately went for our coffee....and that is where I met him, the Angel....sent to me from our gracious Heavenly Father.
The hotel, as most do nowadays, had a separate room with fruit, pastries, cereal, juice and coffee for the guests to enjoy. I had no sooner poured our coffee than he appeared. A young, tall, thin, black man with big brown, sparkling eyes filled with a sense of wonder came practically bouncing into the room whistling.
" Good morning, mam, how are you today?" I replied weakly, " I am okay, sir, hope you are today." He must have noticed something was wrong. I saw him get a cup but I never saw him fill it with anything. He bent his head down towards me and with a sweet, gentle voice he said, " Honey, why are you so sad today?" I just looked up at him and started crying, spilling out what we were facing and telling him that eventually Amy would have to come off the life support system and that she was most surely going to die. I also told him that I knew that God would take care of things the way they needed to be but this was going to be the hardest thing my husband and I had ever had to face. Believe me with both of us having life threatening illnesses and coping with all that these situations entail, we have faced some very rough times. Those times hard as they were and still can be pale in comparison to this....the most horrific time in the life of a parent...the loss of your child.
He said in the sweetest, softest, most tender voice full of love and compassion that I have ever heard...." Then, child, where is your faith?"
He began to talk slow and carefully about how the Lord loved me, that I was His child and that He would be a comfort to me no matter what I had to face. He spoke of the Lord's love for mankind and that at times we had to face some hard things but the Lord would always be there for us. He also said, " Prayer works miracles." I knew that he did not mean that if I prayed hard enough Amy would come out of this. He was just pointing out that "PRAYER WORKS MIRACLES ". A simple statement....simple??? It was everything, no matter what, never stop praying.
I replied that I was a Christian and had been raised in a Christian home by loving parents and knew that the Lord would take care of things according to His perfect will. I also told him that I knew that the Lord would get us through this.
He looked right into my eyes and said to me so matter of factly, so that I would not miss what he was about to say..... " That is what I was sent here to tell you."
I then realized that this was no mere man....the precious Lord Jesus had sent the angel for my personal comfort during this trying, heart wrenching experience.
I then asked him if he remembered the television programs of a few years ago called...Joan of Arcadia and Touched By An Angel? He said, " I know all about those programs." I said to him, " I think you are an angel". He just smiled sweetly at me. I told him how much comfort I had received from his words and how much it meant to me to have him there. He gave me a big hug and said with all compassion, " I love you honey and I will be praying for you." I told him that I loved him too and thanked him over and over. He was just as real as you are reading these words.
As I turned to pick up our coffee and follow him out into the hall, I distinctly heard three steps...one, two, three.....he was no more than five seconds ahead of me going into the main lobby. When I got there, he was gone. There was no way possible he could have reached any outside door from the main lobby in that time frame. I just smiled to myself, praised the Lord a million times and ran to tell my husband.
When we returned to the hospital, friends and so many, many people from the church had arrived. So many in fact that the nurses had to caution us several times into the day and late that night to move back and keep the hall ways clear. It was such a show of support and love for Amy for all those people to come and be with us at this most difficult time. That day I told several folks of meeting the angel...some wholeheartedly believed without doubting and then there were those that looked at me as if I had lost my mind. I knew that I had not lost my mind; indeed I knew the Lord had sent that angel to me for my personal comfort and encouragement to face the death of our precious daughter that came on Saturday, February 25, 2006.
Her brain had begun to swell and after a meeting with the doctors it was determined that nothing could be done. As painful as that was to hear there was no way around it. We began the painful task of saying good-bye. I kissed each of her fingers and toes, her hands, her forehead, prayed aloud with Jim and Heather and left the room.
Only three family members were to be allowed to come in while they disconnected her from the various IV's and machines that had been keeping her alive. Our daughter, Heather and my husband Jim were with her when Amy passed away. I would never have left them to face that alone had I been allowed to join them but hospital rules were very specific. The doctors and nurses were so professional, courteous, mindful to our needs, precious, supportive, and so kind. I will never forget them.
Amy's visitation lasted from 4:45 in the afternoon until 9:10 at night. Over 2,000 people passed through offering their prayers, support and comfort. There were over 600 in the church for the funeral and many at the graveside service. As one kind gentleman passed through the line, he said to me, "Let me tell you how I got through it, not one day at a time but one prayer at a time.
I am so deeply saddened by the fact that Emma will not benefit from the tender love and care that she had from her mother and Amy's wise counsel. It would never cease to amaze me the wisdom that came in her words about how she was going to handle this or that matter trying to raise an 18-year-old stepdaughter as well as Emma who had just turned 20 months.
Everyone who loved Amy suffered an incredible loss. Amy taught all of us volumes of things by her words, her touch, her smile, and her wisdom. She was so proud of being an organ donor and because of that fact she lives on.
Two more weeks and we would have been going to Tennessee to visit with two of our daughters. We had made arrangements at the hotel with an inside pool so that the grandchildren could have fun swimming. We had booked two adjoining rooms and were going to spend the weekend together visiting, playing games, eating anything we wanted and loving each other. Never in a million years would I have believed our daughter Deanna would be in that adjoining room awaiting the funeral of her stepsister.
I still can't believe that she is gone. She will never call again on the cell phone while I am walking during lunch just to see "what are you doing or how is your day going? " She will never call again with a conspiratorial plan for " Daddy's " Christmas present. I will not be able to laugh with her or cry with her or plan special meals together when she came to visit. Never again will I hear..."Mama Judy...I need to talk. " We loved each other and were very close. For that I am so thankful to the Lord.
I am praying for all step parents...the ones that had the blessing of knowing and loving a son or a daughter not as a biological child but as a child of the heart. I pray for your strength not only to care for your own personal loss, but also to help you care for your loving spouse who is in such anguish.
I will be praying for anyone who has faced this horrific time in the lives. The loss of a child is undeniably hard. There are so many heart wrenching emotions and struggles that you will face. It is something you will never forget but you will learn to cope. Be forgiving of yourself and most of all patient with yourself, your spouse and others around you. Remember you are not the only one who has suffered this incredible loss. Men and women whether they be a father, uncle, brother, grandfather, mother, aunt, sister, grandmother all grieve differently...not wrong or right, just different. We all have our different stages of grief and we all reach them at different times and on different levels.
Remember that some times the bravest thing we can do is get up in the morning and get on with the day. Each morning I put on the armor of the Lord as outlined in the book of Ephesians.
They say that time heals all wounds. I don't think the loss of a child or some other of life's experiences can be truly healed but by prayer and faith. I know that we will continue and so will you. You will eat again, you will taste food again, you will smile again, you will laugh again, you will sleep again, you will praise again. A very large piece of your heart is gone but we must continue you...not as before but nevertheless you WILL continue.
We have to remember that the Lord has already walked this way. He, the great physician, the great healer will walk with us on our journey through this unspeakable loss. All we have to do is hold out our hand and He will take it.
There is a Christian musical CD called GOD WITH US. I have listened to so often that I know one of these days it is going to shatter into a thousand pieces. It is called GOD WITH US. There is a song that called " Be Strong And Take Courage". May the words of that song be a comfort to you, especially the last verse that reads:
BE STRONG AND TAKE COURAGE
Remember what my angel told me: The Lord will never leave you nor forsake you. Prayer indeed works miracles.
God bless you and keep you safe in His hands.
Comments would be appreciated by the author, Judy W