This story begins with a woman named Ellen and how she has risen from the tragedy of a parent’s worst nightmare. Her newborn baby boy died of lung complications shortly after birth. She was devastated as she left the hospital, but happy to return to her two sons, Ralph and Joey. Within a few months she learned that she was pregnant again. She had hoped that this child would ease the pain of her loss.
Around the same time she found out she was pregnant, she also learned that her eldest son Ralph may have a hole in his heart. She didn’t know how serious his condition was, they were awaiting many test results, what she remembers is this. Ralph came to her and said, Mom, tomorrow’s my birthday we have to prepare; she said, no, it isn’t, your birthday is in May and it’s March. He insisted it was tomorrow and started making paper hats, streamers and decorated his room singing “Happy Birthday.” Ellen decided, since he was only five what harm could a pretend birthday be. Then he lined up all of his trucks and cars on the fireplace and told her to give them to his brother Joey when he’s gone. His comment frightened her and she said you’re not going anywhere. He said, yes I am mommy and I will always love you. You have taken care of me my whole life I am going to be a cloud in the sky watching over you for the rest of your life. This really scared her, but she didn’t know what to do.
The next day she told him that they had to go to the Dr. because she had to get a shot in her tummy to keep the baby inside of her until it was time to come out. He told her, I know you want the baby to be a boy like the one that died, but mommy, it’s going to be a girl and she will be okay. Again, she became alarmed at him talking like this. After her Dr. Appointment, she brought the boys to white castle for lunch. While there Ralph began to cough a lot she went over to him and held him while he died in her arms. She remembered him saying his birthday was going to be today and it was his birth into heaven. This loss of two children in a nine month period was too much for her and pushed her into a dark place. She began to blame God and if it weren’t for her pregnancy and remaining son she would have ended her life.
The Doctors asked if they could do an autopsy to discover what the cause of death was. When the autopsy report was complete they called for a meeting. They told her and her husband that Ralph’s liver and heart were enlarged and that he had multiple blood clots surrounding his heart. His heart also only had one chamber and it was the muscle from his outer wall of his heart that got it to beat. They had never seen anything like this before and it was a miracle he lived to five. They asked if they could keep his heart at the Vanderbilt clinic in New York to study and help other children. She agreed and asked how they think he survived with only one chamber in his heart. The doctors actually told her they thought it was impossible and could only explain it as a miracle of God and love.
She did give birth, as Ralph said, to a healthy baby girl. She realized that her anger towards God and turning away from him was not good, that when a neighbor invited her to a night of inner healing at her Church she went and it changed her life. She did the exercise of closing her eyes and envisioning everyone that has hurt her and to say I forgive you to them and she felt better. Before she left they told everyone to go home and ask God if there was anyone that they had forgotten. Ellen couldn’t wait and did so, on the drive home. She heard God’s voice as clear as though he were next to her say, “It was me you forgot to forgive” She broke down in the car at that very moment and all the anger and resentment left her. She did an about-face and instead of turning away from God she leaped for him in love. She now volunteers at the Church in many different ministries helping people know the love of Christ and heal from hardships they encounter.
Her advice to others is this, God heals us in stages. If he did it all at once it would be too much for us to handle. We need the unfolding of layers to heal. She compares it to the peeling of an onion and as we peel we shed tears and these tears cleanse us.
My thoughts are, when we face certain tragedies in life-like Ellen’s we go through a period of time where there is no upside. It’s dark and our world is turned upside down. We have to walk through that darkness to find the light on the other side and it’s important to never lose hope or give up on God’s love, because if we do we get enveloped by the darkness. God is always there with us; we just don’t always see or feel him. I compare it to a hug, if someone hugs you and you are only thinking of your pain you tend to not feel that person hug you and they are so close to you that you can’t see them, but they are closer than they possibly can be during that hug. Picture that the next time you feel in hardship, perhaps it’s in the hardest times that God is closest to you. For he loves each of us as though we are the only one.
Isaiah 43: 2, 4
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.
Since you are precious and honored in my sight,
and because I love you,