Saturday, September 5, 2009

Do You Believe in Angels?

I just finished reading “A Glimpse of Heaven” by Trudy Harris. Trudy was a hospice nurse for twenty-five years and the president of the Hospice Foundation for Caring. She gave me a closer look at the final thoughts, words and visions of the terminally ill and dying. She is s strong Irish Catholic woman with amazing faith and confidence in her calling to assist people in their final days on Earth. Many of the vignette style stories left me in tears. A few of them were religiously drippy, but most kept me fascinated by the common thread of people’s emotions as they near death. Seeing deceased loved ones reaching out for the dying, or angels in the room were frequent occurrences.

I believe in angels. Not only the billowy white, winged kind that blow trumpets in the clouds, but angels on Earth, that appear to comfort the ill or dying. I say this because of what I witnessed when my son, Lucas, was a five month old baby in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at UCLA. Of his five admissions, this one particular visit lasted the longest at five months and sixteen days. His babyhood included a lot of surgery, suffering, recovery and pain. Nothing close to normal, but he was resilient and we all adjusted to the chaos of living in an Intensive Care Unit for so long.

He was so tiny and not close to rolling around at 5 months, so he was kept in a regular big hospital bed that I was able to crawl into and nap with him. His bed was located in the back corner of the Intensive Care unit and this is the only location and time that I saw him respond to something that I could not see. He had been on mechanical ventilation for six weeks, with a tube down his throat, with white hospital tape across his tender baby face to keep it in place. I missed seeing his cheeks and face without the dissection of a white line across it. Many times he would be looking up and his eyes lit up as if to be watching something pleasant above his bed. Whatever he observed pulled his attention off of me. It did not add up until the tube was removed and he was given a tracheostomy allowing the breathing tube to be attached through his neck. His face was finally free and I could see the expression that was hiding under the tape all those weeks.

A handful of times, Lucas stared up and responded as if I had “cootchy-coochty-cooed “in his face, but I did not. He was smiling, gazing up at the air around him, eyes wide open with life and following something. He appeared content and enjoying whatever it was. When I looked, nothing was there, but his attention stayed on what I think was an angel of comfort sent to my little one during this stressful time. You can call me crazy, dramatic, or delirious, but I promise something was present that only his innocent eyes were open too. It soothed my heart and eased my pain to think that our loving Father was consoling Lucas in such a special way. Because I was personally touched by this heavenly dimension, I am able to stand firm on my belief that angels really do exist.

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