I’d been to church for an evening service. I was the minister of music. And when I returned home, there was an ambulance at my house. And the neighbors had gathered. And the next door neighbor was trying to tell me something about how she’d been instrumental in making this happen. But the “wa wa wa wa” had already set in. I couldn’t hear her either. My husband and I followed the ambulance to the hospital and rushed to her room. We couldn’t be with her because they were doing emergency work and triaging her situation. And working up the nerve to tell me that my #1 daughter would likely not see morning. 10 percent. Zero percent.
And I couldn’t hear any of it. We went home to help take care of our new grand.
And we gathered for prayer.
The tone changes in this place as my #2 daughter reports on something I don’t even remember.
“The cacophonous prayer will always be unforgettable as it shook me out of my own bona fide egocentricity. Up to this point there were a few truths that governed my reality. My mother was a praying woman who shared a loving and peaceful prayer life with God. My sister was sick and in the hospital, but everything was going to be alright. I grew weary of the constant visiting and figured I would await her return home. There was no ill intent in my fatigue in visiting, I was just living a 15-year old’s existence of self-indulgence. The shrill and resonant sound shifted me from engaging in the family prayer that I thought to be rote, to understanding that there was clearly something wrong. There was no communication to us kids about my sister’s present status and circling up for family prayer was normal in my home. Until this phrase… “Pleeeeeassssse don’t take my baby,” repeatedly in a manner that was clear that all bets were off; and this was no normal prayer. This was a war cry. This was a negotiation that portrayed leverage to suggest the request and the only acceptable outcome. After this war cry prayer, the result would undoubtedly end one way. I broke ranks with the prayer awaiting an explanation that was certainly omitted and yet I feared it was already clear. I’d soon discover that what the doctor told my mother was commensurate with her words, tone and intensity in prayer; “She will not make it through the night!” This is the kind of OJT I was raised on, when life gives you a message that does not align with the core of your soul, there has to ensue such a conversation between you and the father that reflects your personal relationship with him and all that you believe him capable of providing. I learned the battle of outcomes are often wrought in the arena of a family circled in prayer and a mother that believed her faith could pull the victory.”
You see when a mother “almost” loses a child, the hole preemptively created in her heart is not to be dispelled just because the child lives. The hole is forever there because she’s gone through every excruciating minute until the moment the child comes back. There’s no forgetting the agony endured, every second of the wait. There’s no forgetting the mind’s process of reworking one’s world without one’s child. There’s no forgetting the inept things people say and do in an attempt to be helpful. There’s no forgetting. Even now, my heart sinks as I remember. I remember the gray pallor of her skin. I remember how her eyes searched mine for patches of hope she could snatch for herself. I remember my heart struggling to be present in worship, even as a worship leader, as I questioned God as to his game plan and how it would work out for my child. I remember the call from the hospital that things had gotten so bad that they’d given her a blood transfusion. Without my permission? It was 1988. We thought transfusions were still questionable. She wasn’t an adult. I was her adult. We left church immediately to get to her side. And when my eyes fell on her, they began to dance. My heart was lightened. The gray was gone. And I knew in that second that she would live.