I’m not the type of person to trumpet my spiritual beliefs from the highest mountaintop, flood social media with memes and online requests for declarations of others beliefs, or even argue religious and spiritual issues in the presences of others. I have researched and studied many religious belief systems, from Wicca to Buddhism to Tao to UU to just general New Age, and one thing I have discovered is that there is a “higher power,” a connection to the Universe, a mystical and unexplained energy that brings things to us. Call it God, call it fate, call it Karma, but it’s there.
I encountered it the day I met an angel.
A real angel.
Laugh if you will, but she was an angel.
It was 4 years ago today. My son was sick and had been for several months. His pediatrician, however, claimed she could find no illness. He exhibited the symptoms of an ear infection – runny nose, holding his ears, low grade temp, irritability – since he was just under a year old, but, with the exception of one round of antibiotics 6 months prior, she said my son’s ears were clear. When he started not responding to sounds, ceased his language growth, and started making strange guttural sounds we knew something was wrong, but we got no support from his doctor. Four days prior, just days before his 2nd birthday, I took him in once again with the same array of symptoms, and once again, I was told his ears were clear. When I asked about his behaviors, she referred me to Early Intervention, stating he probably had a delay or a disability and that they would help. The fact he had delays was obvious, but once again, I left the office feeling I wasted my time. Frustrated and angry, I tried to grapple with the impending knowledge that something was truly wrong with my son.
I spent the next few days crying. I trusted his doctor, although my gutt was telling me something wasn’t adding up. I began to believe maybe she was right, that my son’s problems wasn’t physical but more cognitive. For any parent, this realization is overwhelming, but given the months of going back and forth to the doctors with no answers I was completely drowning in pain and confusion. What was wrong with my son?
I was in a completely desperate state. I had no clue how to proceed. Looking back, I should have pressed it with his doctor, should have sought additional opinions, should have gone with my gutt, but I was so upset that I couldn’t rationalize anything. I didn’t know where to turn……
I don’t know how I ended up there, but I ended up at the church down the street from my house. To this day, I don’t recall why I went, how I got there, or what I was doing prior to my visit. I know it was 4 days after that doctor’s visit, I know my daughter was with me, and I know I was crying constantly. I remember my daughter asking me why we were there, and I just told her I had to talk to God.
It was dark out, although I cannot recall how late. My daughter and I went into the lower church where people went to pray. I knelt down, and prayed for guidance, for insight, for help for my son. I prayed for answers. I was crying, not quite sobbing, but definitely upset. My eyes were raw from days of tearful emotion, my color was pale, my nose was red. I must have looked a mess to any bystander.
It was then a woman approached me in the pew.
“You look like you need a shoulder,” she said.
I looked at her and couldn’t hold back. I cried, sobbed, on this strangers shoulder. She stroked my hair and gave words of comfort that it was going to be ok. I just cried.
When I lifted my head up, she asked me if I wanted to share what was wrong, and all I could say is, “My son.” I told her nothing more. Not his age, not his situation. Not that I knew he was sick – that something was wrong – and his doctor can’t seem to identify it. Not that he didn’t seem to be able to respond to sound, that he had stopped talking, that he seemed in pain.
“God is telling me to tell you that he will fix what is broken,” she said. “He will make your son whole.”
These words brought such comfort to me that I sobbed again, this time out of happiness. Sure, it sounded very vague, very much like what you might hear in a fortune cookie, but it was just what I needed to hear at that time. I had some hope, a renewed faith, that my son would be healed.
We spoke a bit more – I don’t recall the topic or what was said – and she soon resumed her original seat. My daughter and I left the church.
“Who was that, Mommy?” my daughter asked as we walked to the car.
“An angel,” I replied. “God sends them sometimes when we need them most.”
“Where were her wings?” my 4 year old asked.
“No, He sends them in different ways. Sometimes as ordinary people, sometimes as a whisper in your ear that you barely hear, sometimes as a sign, but he sends them.” I wasn’t making it up. It was always my belief that we get the answers we need when we need them most. How the message is delivered varies, but it’s always there. Call it fate if you will, but it happens. And this, I felt, was one of those moments.
That night, my son was in extreme pain, holding his ears, crying inconsolably, hanging his head upside down. As he was rolling on the floor screaming, I called his pedi, but instead got the on-call doctor. She heard my son in the background and told me to bring him in right away. It was nearly 9 at night, but she said she’d open her office for use. “He needs help right away,” I recall her saying.
It took her one look in his ears to have our answers – not only were his ears infected, but they were full of thick fluid (known as ear glue). The ears were so full that she could not see his eardrum. She theorized the ears were infected for a number of months and that he has had diminished hearing for that time. He was probably so used to the pain, she believed, that he didn’t react to it until it got so intense that it was unbearable. The ear glue was thickened infected fluid that didn’t drain from his ears and he probably was hearing “like he was underwater.”
She put it plainly to me, “He can’t hear.”
Again, I cried, this time out of relief, and out of anger for the pain he had been feeling for months that went untreated.
She gave him strong antibiotics, referred him to an ENT, and gave me more advice on how to make him comfortable.
I switched to her as my son’s pedi and never saw the other one again. My anger over her negligence, and my own guilt over not going with my instinct and pressing the issues are emotions I’m still dealing with 4 years later, but his road to recovery did begin on that day, with those angels.
My son has had three ear surgeries, had tubes placed in his ears, has seen multiple specialists, and has his hearing tested twice a year. We will never know how impaired his hearing was prior to his treatment, but we know now his hearing is 100% normal. That year, however, damaged his development. He is delayed in many areas, and still struggles to learn to learn to speak. He had to learn language all over again, and now deals with sensory issues from that year of sensory deprivation. He’s in special programs in school to help him regulate his sensory input, and to help him develop his speech and social skills. Our world changed that day, and we began a journey to give our son back his voice.
But it was an angel that harkened to me the message that he would be saved and “made whole.” And an angel that showed us the answers we needed in order to begin his recovery.
God never told us how long his recovery would be, nor how long it would be before he was made whole again, but I am confident he will be. We are on that road now and though I wish it were quicker, I also realize sometimes our plans are not how God intends them to be. But it is hard to remember a day like that day and not see a greater power’s hand in it. Yes, you can chock it up to coincidence or fate, but I feel a greater pull in the events than that. Whatever you want to call it, it was a day when we got the answers we needed when we needed it most.