Maggie’s Miracle

Maggie’s Miracle

From Chicken Soup for the Soul Celebrating People Who Make a Difference

Maggie’s Miracle

In prosperity, our friends know us; in adversity, we know our friends.

John Churton Collins

From the moment my husband and I were first introduced, our life has been one miracle after another. The most recent miracle has been the story of our Maggie. We’d been married for four years, and we often questioned if or when it was time to add to our family. Each time we thought we were ready, we put too much thought into it and talked ourselves out of it. The one time we ignored any of the “facts” and decided to trust God with a pregnancy, he wasted no time at all taking on the challenge! I was pregnant in less than a week.

Maggie was six weeks premature, and at less than four pounds and sixteen inches, she won the hearts of my coworkers at the bank. They were amazed that anything so tiny could not only survive but thrive.

And she was very healthy . . . except for a perceptible heart murmur. The doctors weren’t necessarily worried, but they wanted to err on the side of caution and keep a close eye on her development.

The day she left the hospital was the same day she had her first appointment with a heart specialist. Dr. Burton was encouraging as he agreed that it was possible for Maggie to outgrow her heart murmur. All went well for Maggie’s first eighteen months. She had a hearty appetite and played with enthusiasm, even though her day-care provider and I joked that Maggie was the only child in day care who actually looked forward to a nap.

At our next appointment, Dr. Burton detected a noticeable difference in her heart rhythm and was able to explain why Maggie tired so easily. Apparently, not only had the murmur become loud enough for his experienced ear to hear without a stethoscope, but also her aortic valve was not working properly.

At eighteen months, her tiny body was working overtime to keep her heart going, leaving her exhausted after a few hours of play. Maggie would need open-heart surgery—the sooner, the better.

In one single moment, all the mundane concerns of the day—what was for dinner, did we need to get milk on the way home—diminished in importance. Nothing else mattered as I held my baby to my chest. I knew this was too big for us to handle alone. I quickly breathed a simple prayer: “Lord, help us.”

After the initial shock wore off, John and I were ready to make the necessary plans. The hospital was two hours away. Our oldest daughter was in school, so she would need to stay with someone for a week. We would need someone to feed the cats while we were gone. We would need to put a hold on our mail and newspapers, as well as arrange to pay any bills that were due while we were gone.

Finally, John and I would have to make arrangements with our employers. It was only February, and both John and I would need all of our vacation and sick days to be with our little patient during surgery and recovery.

We learned that in addition to Maggie’s weeklong hospital stay, her chest would take a full three weeks to heal. I was fortunate that I had two weeks of paid vacation, one week of sick pay, and some personal days left to use. John, however, had only two weeks of paid vacation available. By the time Maggie would be well enough to return to day care, and I would be able to return to work, all of our paid leave would be gone.

In the two short weeks before Maggie’s surgery, my coworkers were secretly organizing a silent auction that would be held among only the bank employees. They pooled, not only their money, but their talents as well. Some donated crafts, others offered to bake a pie or cookies each month for an entire year. Another agreed to cater a party to the highest bidder. The range of donations was amazing!

Two days before Maggie’s surgery, John and I were invited to a “little get-together” in the bank’s breakroom after work. That’s when we first learned about the silent auction. The last time I had seen so many of my fellow employees gathered in the same place at the same time was at the annual Christmas party a few months earlier. Some had driven forty-five minutes from our branch offices to be there with us. And they were all there for the same reasons—to support our family and to show how very much they cared.

John and I went home wholly encouraged, knowing that their thoughts and prayers would be with our family.

The next morning at our staff meeting, the usual announcements were made. My stomach was in knots; I’d always been more comfortable being on the giving end of a blessing rather than on the receiving end. As I sat there waiting, I knew I was surrounded by people who had completely and unabashedly opened their hearts to me and my family.

The project leader stood up. “When we started this a week and a half ago,” she said, “we had a goal in mind. When we finished last night, we hadn’t reached that goal yet. So this morning, I’ve been hitting up people for more money.” As everyone laughed, I was just as embarrassed as I was amused at the thought of my coworkers being solicited around the coffee pot. As the giggles and knowing looks subsided, she continued. “Now we have met our goal!” As she walked over to me, I stood to meet her. She handed me an envelope filled with cash.

“LaRonda, here’s $2,500 for your family. And,” she added, “those of us who were able to have donated a total of seventeen sick days so you and your family can still have a vacation this summer.”

I was overwhelmed by the enormity of what had happened. And while I was stunned by the amount of money raised in such a short time by such a small group of people, I was not surprised at the level to which they had risen. In the years that I had lived in this town and worked at this bank, I had seen the hearts of each and every employee go out, not only to each other, but to the community as well. Being there when you’re needed is something our bank is committed to, and it’s a commitment that is easily fulfilled when there is the support of loving, hardworking folks like those who were standing with me at this moment.

In the end, we had enough money to pay for gas, food, and housing during Maggie’s hospital stay, and we were able to focus completely on her recovery without worrying about our finances. We also had enough money to compensate for John’s lost wages when we visited Maggie’s Grandma Bourn in Nebraska that summer.

Today, Maggie is a vibrant, loving four-year-old who no longer looks forward to naps. And each time she asks me about the thin scar that runs down the middle of her chest, I tell her the story of how God used sixty-two amazing people to answer our prayers.

LaRonda Bourn

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