Here is the story I recorded after one visit to see my sweet pop :)

February 19, 2009

I commissioned this painting to commemerate this moving is the artist's site!

I commissioned this painting to commemorate this moving is the artist's site!

A Visit from Angels on Sunday

I left Daddy’s bedside distraught. He is plugged into 18 different machines, either dripping fluids into him or sucking others out. He is strapped into a bed that rotates him upside down to expand his lungs to try and help him breathe more on his own. When he is face up, he is swollen and yellowed from the blood poisoning running rampant through his every cell. There is nowhere on his body where I can put my hand on him to hold him without risk of disturbing a tube. I wish his eyes would open. I wish he could move.

Walking back to the car, I am openly sobbing. I have noticed that most people at the hospital—even in the ICU—seem to be doing their best to hold it in. I am incapable. My sobbing is accompanied by great bodily heaves which cause me to convulse. Luckily, I usually only have one session of these per visit. On my way, suddenly, I notice a hibiscus tree with pale pink blooms the size of dinner plates. My crying stops. I am struck by the beauty all around the hospital grounds. Were I not here under such dire circumstances… It is lush here and lovely, and I had never noticed.

I decide then to stop by the fountain that adorns the front entrance for the first time. Adorns—not the right word—it is a great, glorious thing that looks as if it should grace a palace. The round, blue-tiled base surrounds a three-tiered tower of lotus flowers bursting upwards. Atop it all, a family in gold rejoice, dancing and holding their child aloft in the sun.

I sit at the fountain’s edge and run my fingers through the icy water. Three young children, two girls and a boy, are also playing in the water nearby. No other adult is in sight. Seeing coins in the fountain, I begin to fish in my wallet. The little caramel-skinned girl in a yellow dress looks up and asks me, “Do wishes really come true?”

I am struck through the heart and fight to gather myself—I try to go into teacher mode. “Of course they do,” I smile, “why else would I be tossing in coins?” With that, I let three shiny pennies plop into the fountain’s center. The two girls skip over to me and sit on either side. The one who has not yet spoken puts her hand on my leg and tips her small head against my arm. She has long straight hair and bright eyes, and her dress calls to mind something a mermaid might wear. I scan again for any sign of parents, worried how this might look, but see no one. “Yeah, I think they do, too,” she answers, admonishing the little boy not to steal wishes from the water, as she takes my right hand in hers.

“My religion says wishes come true,” chimes in the mermaid girl. “We call it praying. You can pray for anything and it can come true. What did you wish for?”

There is nothing I can do, I am just rolling with the experience, “That my father will live,” I tell them, and the tears come down like rivers.

With that, they cuddle in closer, gathering me up in all the wonder and wisdom that only children can possess. “It’s going to be all right, you just need to pray,” says the girl stroking my hand. As she smiles, her teeth gleam against the backdrop of her dark skin.

Then, the bright-eyed girl stands up and turns to face me. She looks at me squarely with an air well beyond her years, leans into me and says, “Everything is going to be all right. You have to believe that. And in the meantime, you need to pray. And you need to take care of yourself.” She moves in closer, looks me in the eyes and says, “You need to make better decisions.”

I fall still, down to my bones. Every part of my body knows that this experience I am having is something rare, something terrifying, and something immensely beautiful.

“What do you mean?” I ask, daring to explore this exchange more fully. She stops and thinks. “You need make choices that will make your father—I don’t know this word—‘pride’.” She doesn’t know the word? “Proud,” I say.

She nods—yes, I have gotten it right. Then she sits back down beside me, takes my face in her small hands and says very calmly and very slowly, “And if, for some reason, everything isn’t all right, you can’t hurt yourself. Do you understand me?” As her eyes burn in to mine, I hear myself promise, “Okay.”

Then, just as suddenly as it had all begun, something in the air breaks and they are giggly young girls again. “I’m Amanda,” I say, still in a fog, “May I know your names?” I am half expecting them not to have any. “I’m Leslie,” says the girl in yellow. “And I’m Jeniffer.”

“Here,” I ask, “Will you write your names on this for me?” I pull of my ICU badge and hand them a pen. They sign their names. This really is happening.

“Can I have your phone number?” Jeniffer asks. “Sure,” I say, writing it down for her. “I’m a teacher,” I add, somehow trying to make it okay that I am a stranger giving a child my phone number.

“Okay, well, thank you, ladies,” I say as I rise to go. I am overwhelmed and filled with an awe I have never before felt. I need the safety of the familiar. “Thank you so much for all of your advice. I will pray, I promise.”

“And believe,” Jeniffer adds.

“I’ll try,” I say as I wave and head to the car.

It is dusk now and a perfect light breeze skips along through the crepe myrtle trees, blowing my hair up and about. Then, just as I come upon my car, over the breeze I hear a man’s voice call out, “Mandy!”

I turn toward the sound fast—how could this be? How can any of this be? But all my eyes find is a sweet Mexican family, walking three tiny girls dressed in puffy white communion gowns.

As I drive out of the hospital lot, I stop and wave at them. The little girls smile and wave back at me, beaming, as the two parents look at each other and shrug, no doubt wondering just who in the hell I am.



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