Today is Spiritual Journey Thursday. Each week Holly Mueller invites us to reflect on our journey. This week the theme is doubt. I have no doubt of the existence of God because 30 years ago I was witness to it.
On July 3, 1985 I dropped off my four month old baby girl at day care. It was summer, and I wasn’t teaching, but I needed to run some errands, and she needed to get accustomed to the day care. However at noon while I ate lunch with my husband, I had an uneasy feeling. I needed to go check on my baby.
I dropped by and took Maggie in my arms to nurse her. Something wasn’t right. Her breathing was quick, almost like a dog’s panting. After she nursed, she spit up. Not unusual, but the liquid was tinted with reddish brown. That sent me into panic mode. I asked the day care worker to call the doctor. They told her to have me come in immediately.
Usually at the pediatrician’s office, you sit in the waiting room for hours waiting to see the doctor. Not this time. They whisked me to the back. The doctor came in quickly and listened to Maggie’s heart. He had a grave expression on his face. Her heart rate was too fast. She needed to go to the hospital.
This was pre-cell phone era, so I used the doctor’s office phone to call my husband. His secretary sent me to hold, and I was cut off. I called back and cried into the phone. “This is an emergency!”
The hospital was near the doctor’s office. Again, there was no waiting. No long form filling. The nurses grabbed my baby and within minutes had an IV in her tiny little head pumping in medicine. The diagnosis was tachycardia, an abnormal fast heart rate.
Hours passed, and Maggie’s heart rate did not slow down. It was racing at 200+ beats per minute. Our priest came by and prayed with us. He, too, was grave and sad. Was I going to lose my first child?
Around midnight, the doctors decided to send us to Ochsner in New Orleans by helicopter. I would fly with Maggie and Jeff would drive with friends.
I was laid on the stretcher first. Then they handed me the baby. We lay together chest to chest. Heartbeat to heartbeat.
Helicopters are loud. There was no talking to anyone. As we lifted off, we ascended straight up into the sky. No build up to take off as in an airplane. One minute on the ground, the next in the air.
While we flew, I prayed fiercely. I don’t remember the words, but they were like those of Jesus on the cross. “Take this cup away from me.” I didn’t pray for healing. I prayed for presence.
In the sky high above, I felt the physical presence of God, a warmth of hands wrapped around my shoulders. I felt calm, peaceful. I knew everything would be okay. Maggie’s heart slowed to the rhythm of my own.
The equipment at Ochsner was more sophisticated, so the doctors could tell that her fast heart rate was a sinus rhythm. It was not tachycardia. There was an infection somewhere in her system that caused the fast rate.
After many pricks and prods, Maggie was diagnosed with pneumonia. Remember the blood in her spittle? All was well, and we returned home by July 5th with a hoarse and tired baby girl.
When faced with tragedy, I am completely confident in God’s presence. Whether or not God physically healed Maggie doesn’t matter. I know that a strong and holy spirit was with me. We were both healed.