Last week we were out of power for 5 days. No lights, no power, no running water, no toilets — and no idea when it would be restored. This wouldn’t have been so bad if the temps didn’t drop well below freezing most nights, but we were managing — and I dare say — we were actually enjoying all of the quality time spent by the fireplace and camping out in our living room.
By the 4th day, we had actually found a rhythm to this simple life. We had eaten dinner and cleaned up the house before the sun set. We had this “no power thing” down! And as we sat down that night to say our rosary, I breathed a deep breath of relief — we were certainly close to the finish line and tomorrow would be a “day off” from Lenten penances. Life was good.
And then my 4 year old turned to my 8 year old and announced she was “supergirl”. And she jumped off her chair and smashed into the corner of our stone fireplace. And in an instant, all the peace, the tranquility of that night was gone — we were now in panic mode.
Instantly, I prayed, “Lord, no — please Lord, no”. I didn’t even know the damage that had been done, but I had heard the deep, penetrating “thud” when her head hit that stone fireplace.
And John — who was recovering from a hernia operation and forbidden to pick up anything over 10 lbs — swooped in and grabbed his precious little girl and took her off to the kitchen.
I grabbed a flashlight because it was dark at this point and then I proceeded to hit both my husband’s head and my daughter’s back with the metal flashlight as I brought it in for a closer look. I know — I’m a royal klutz! 🙁
It was bad — really bad — but it could have been worse. What had once been a cute little ear was now a mess of blood and torn flesh — and John and I both knew that this needed serious professional help.
So, we grabbed a clean towel and made our plan. I carried our sweet little girl into the car, buckled her in, and made a little cross on her forehead with my thumb — begging God to restore her to full health.
Then I looked my oldest daughter straight in the eyes. She was afraid — and so was I — but I told her “She is going to be okay”. I kissed John and watched them drive off into night.
And then I walked back into our cold, dark house and looked at our kids — some of whom were crying — and said, “The only thing we can do now is pray”. And so we did.
The day before, I had purchased two candles at the Catholic book store — the kind you find in a Catholic Church in front of a statue of Jesus or Mary — and I lit those candles as we kept vigil for our sweet little girl.
We gave her to Jesus and His mother, Mary, and begged them to give her back to us — for our lives would never be the same without her! And I know this is dramatic, but that’s just the dark path my mind goes down when something happens to one of my kids.
And we discussed our plan. Our oldest boy was put in charge of the fire for the night. Our temporary beds were set up, we pulled out a portable DVD player we had charged at the library, put on a mindless movie, and I grabbed a beer — hey, I’m only human. 🙁 And we waited and I prayed.
John and I kept in touch via texts. He was so good about sending pictures and updates. And then I received the text “They are pretty sure a piece of her ear is missing”. I can not express the feeling of walking over to my fireplace and searching for a piece of my daughter’s ear, but there was nothing — not even a drop of blood.
And then I said a prayer that only a Catholic could appreciate: I prayed, “St. Anthony, please help them to find that missing piece of her ear”. Yes, Catholics believe that — just as we would ask a friend to pray for us here on earth — we can also ask the Saints, who are our friends in heaven, to pray for us too.
And throughout the centuries people have found that some Saints were especially good at particular types of cases — cancer, heart disease, miscarriage, depression or mental illness all have Saints that are dedicated to these causes. And many have become life-long friends with the different Saints who have helped them along this path.
St. Anthony is one of the friends I have met along the way — he’s the patron of lost items — and I’m always bothering him to help me find my keys or missing papers — so why not send the poor guy on a more noble mission of finding a missing piece of my daughter’s ear?
And as the doctor — a Muslim man– slowly knit together her badly torn ear, he did find that “missing” piece of her ear. And I mention the fact that he was a Muslim for a reason: God used this willing and capable Muslim man to lovingly restore our daughter’s ear.
Sometimes the news has painted all Muslims with the same stroke — but most of them are family loving people just living their lives like the rest of us.
And I’m not arguing about securing borders here — yes we need to protect our country — but thank God for that Muslim man who dedicated his life to restoring health to others! May God bless him for his willingness to help.
And the next day, as I sat down and had lunch with our sweet little 4 year old, she turned to me and asked, “Why didn’t you or dad catch me?”.
Believe me, I had asked myself that same question a few times the night before. And if I’m being perfectly honest — I had turned to God a few times and asked Him the same question, “Lord, why didn’t you catch her?”
But I looked at my daughter and honestly said, “We just couldn’t get there in time. We wish we could have caught you”.
And then I asked, “But why did you jump?” And she gave me a look like she was thinking about that question, but had no good answer for it.
And we both sat there thinking about these important questions that have been asked countless times by parents and kids throughout the history of the world. And I must admit I am still thinking about those questions to this day.
I honestly don’t have the answers, but there are a few things that this Lent has taught me thus far. It has reminded me about something I sometimes forget: people are way more important than things or being comfortable. Sometimes all the distractions of work, wanting to be “efficient”, and glowing screens makes us lose sight of that. I’m going to try no to lose sight of that.
It also taught me that sometimes we aren’t going to be able to catch our kids — no matter how hard we try! But there is Somebody who will catch them, Who loves them — even more than we love them — and Who will never, ever let them go!
Yes, perhaps Satan or our own stupidity has the upper hand on occasion — but this is not the end of the story! We are in the middle of the story, and sometimes it is hard to understand why God doesn’t just “catch” our kids when we can’t.
And though I don’t have all the answers, I do know that Love will triumph in the end. I hold onto that truth with faith. I pray that I always hold onto that truth, because — sadly, I know this won’t be the last night I have to keep vigil for one of my kids.
Openness to life means openness to pain — especially the pain of seeing somebody you love suffer intensely. Sometimes I wonder if the pain of the one watching a loved one suffer is actually greater than the pain of the one suffering.
It’s one of the reasons why we honor Mary — for keeping vigil through the passion of our Lord — for staying and loving when her heart was breaking inside.
She is a true model for mothers, and I must say I felt her keeping me company as I suffered through that cold, dark night — begging God to answer the prayers of a mother who so desperately needed His help.