94: My Angel-in-Law

94: My Angel-in-Law

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Angels and Miracles

My Angel-in-Law

The guardian angels of life sometimes fly so high as to be beyond our sight, but they are always looking down upon us.

~Jean Paul Richter

The psychic medium paced the studio, his shaggy white hair flowing behind him. He pursed his lips, listening to an internal dialogue that forty hopeful people could not hear. We were all there for essentially the same reason — to connect with a lost loved one.

He paused, his eyes closed, and then offered clues to the audience as to whom he was channeling. We were instructed to raise our hands if the details resonated with any of us. He gravitated toward different sides of the room as if by radar, divulging additional details until he could single out the person whose loved one was communicating from the other side. The room was full of mourners looking for solace, and a glimpse into what world, if any, their loved ones now inhabited. At least I know I was.

While I believed in the power of psychics, many in the room did not. They wore cynical scowls, and the medium encouraged their doubt. He welcomed skeptics, and hoped to prove his genuine gift by providing specific information that no one else could know. He acknowledged that his industry was full of charlatans, preying on believers who’d pay any fee for a message, an image, or some hope. It was easy enough to fool them. Most anyone could proffer vague details that desperate people would interpret as personal. Who didn’t know someone who’d had a heart attack, walked with a limp, or had passed in a tragic accident? Grief made people gullible.

I’d been to this medium’s group readings on other occasions. I’d lost a brother, both sets of grandparents, and several friends. After my brother died suddenly, I sought answers through psychic reading in order to make sense of the loss. This particular psychic had “read” my brother with such clarity that I hoped to re-experience some of the comfort, spiritual nourishment, and peace I’d previously felt. I knew I might not get a personal reading this time, as there were only so many he could squeeze into the allotted two hours.

What I never imagined was that I would hear from someone I’d never met.

My mind flashed to three years earlier, as I lay in the recovery room, struggling to breathe against an invisible weight on my chest. While I’d been told that the transfer surgery to implant three fertilized embryos had been textbook easy, I nonetheless knew something was wrong. In that moment, I couldn’t think about the years I’d struggled with infertility, the multiple failures, the pills and shots, and the crushing monthly disappointment. I just needed to breathe.

My body had hyper-stimulated from the fertility drugs, producing twenty-three eggs in a single month, and it would take a while to recover from such a taxing feat. Awash in hormones, continuously breathless and tremendously uncomfortable, I was on bed rest for a month. That rest gave me the opportunity to think, obsess, and pray. I hoped to become pregnant and I yearned to recapture who I’d been before the infertility. My happy, busy life had been invaded by the pain and frustration of infertility, and it was all consuming.

I gradually recovered from the hyper-stimulation and learned that I was carrying twin boys. It was a high-risk pregnancy that eventually returned me to bed rest because the boys were positioned very low and they needed more time to develop their lungs before they could safely be born.

Again, with hours to fill the day, I read through baby rearing books and name books. We’d intended to name Twin A after our grandfathers, and Twin B was to be named after my husband’s mother, who had died when he was ten years old. I often stared at pictures of my husband as a little boy with his mom, and could feel their profound sadness while she grew sicker and succumbed to a diabetes-related illness. I’d already formed a bond with my unborn boys and could not fathom a separation like my husband endured with his own mother. I wished that I had known my mother-in-law, and that she could be a part of the miracle that was taking place. I was pleased to honor her memory with our child’s name.

When I delivered two healthy five-and-a-half pound boys we were overjoyed. Unfortunately, that joy was tempered by the temporary paralysis that I experienced in both legs, lasting for six weeks after their birth. I could not pick up my babies when they cried; I could not walk to them and watch them sleep in their matching bassinets. I was dependent on others to bring the boys to me, and I worried that our bond would be hampered by my temporary disability.

I never considered that I wouldn’t recover; I simply had to. My babies needed me, and we had a life to lead that did not involve my using a wheelchair, walker, or cane. Despite my new-mother fatigue, I had physical therapy each day until I was able to walk without assistance. Sheer determination to be the mother I wanted to be for my babies helped me regain the use of my legs.

I recovered and was happily raising my twins when my brother passed. His death cloaked me in a depression that only the toddlers could lift me from. The psychic had helped me before. I was there again to see if my brother’s spirit was still around me.

The group reading was almost over when I heard the psychic mention that he was communicating with a woman who had been a teacher and was diabetic. I, along with several other people raised my hand. He approached my general vicinity, throwing more details, until there were only a couple hopeful hands raised.

“Who has the twins?” he asked.

My spine tingled as I called out that I did. He approached me and asked if I knew someone who’d been scalded in the bathtub. I held my breath. That particular incident was very traumatic for my husband. He witnessed his mother, who’d lost sensation in her foot, unknowingly step into the blistering water. It was the beginning of her decline.

“Yes, that was my mother-in-law,” I whispered.

He nodded, looking up.

“She wants you to know that she watched over you when you were pregnant and afterward with your legs.”

It was in that moment that I realized she did know me, and loved me. She was a part of our lives in her own way, and I was enormously grateful.

I’d finally met my mother-in-law.

~Shanna Silva

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