Complications from the emergency delivery prevented me from traveling to the distant hospital where my baby son was transported, hours after being cut from his lifeline. Left alone with an empty womb, I remained in the hospital for over a week.
When I finally returned home, it was more difficult to face our other children waiting expectantly for their new brother, than it was to face the sentence of bed rest. After hemorrhaging, I had no choice but to cooperate.
Nocturnal vigils kept me sound awake. Haunted by a cry nearly forty miles away on a silent night in January. Only a prayer connected me to the precious son I hadn’t yet embraced.
Night was darker than ever before. Houses put to sleep by the dark, bordered the snow-covered roads.
No one awake but God . . . and me.
I felt paralyzed. I couldn’t drive, and I couldn’t be driven. I fumbled recklessly through my Bible to find an answer to anesthetize me. The black letters strung together may as well have been invisible. Through tears, I stared past blank pages to a vacant crib across the room.
Finally, I stumbled blindly across a passage at the divine end, Revelation. I read about an angel writing to the “church in Philadelphia.” Still a faith rookie, my desperate search was enough to take me out of context (and geography). I awoke my husband to ask the name of the inner-city church that had been on the news. They spoke of a miracle.
Before first light, I called the rectory. A soft-spoken man answered and made sense of my rambling.
“My baby was flown down to St. Christopher’s Hospital. He’s not expected to live.”
He asked a few questions, my answer, “I’m not of your faith. Will you help me?”
In perfect monotone sacristy, he replied, “Yes, my child, I will”
Jesus is non-denominational.
His black hem draping over white mounds to make the hallowed trek.
He searched the empty corridors to find my child. A nurse called to relay his tender visit. Bending low over the fragile infant plugged into technology, he prayed and sang.
Three hours later, our son was weaned from the dialysis machine. Three months later, he came home. Thirteen years later it was time for him to have a kidney transplant. He successfully received healing from my donation.
Our family wanted to send a note to the loving surrogate, who went in my place. Sadly, we were informed Father O’Toole was very sick and transferred to a home for aging priests.
Two weeks before he passed away he received this note from our son. Holding the letter with trembling hand, close to his failing eyes, he read:
You probably won’t remember me. I was the baby that you came to visit and pray for many years ago. My mom told me that you had an impacted wisdom tooth and walked fourteen blocks in a snowstorm. I wanted to let you know, God heard you and healed me, but when I called to let you know, I heard you were very sick. Now it’s my turn to pray for you. Love Geoff
Gazing out of the nursing room window, with a faint smile of remembrance, the humble priest nodded, revisiting the distant moment. I doubt if he expected his charitable deed on that wintry day to one day be recorded on a blog.
Yesterday was our son’s 33rd birthday. Despite the mild temperature of the un-winter day, I recalled the snowstorm of long ago.
I remember the love of God, dressed like man, who made the sacrificial journey in my place.