Angel in the Clouds

Angel in the Clouds

From Chicken Soup for the Grandma's Soul

Angel in the Clouds

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

Jean Paul Richter

The anesthesiologist covered my face with the mask while I counted one-hundred, ninety-nine, ninety-eight, ninety-seven. . . .

My ordinary world was gone.

Seven hours later, I awoke under painfully bright lights. Through the confusion of tubes, monitors and beeping machines, I realized I was in the recovery room of St. Mary’s Hospital. I couldn’t feel my legs. Thunderous spasms of pain pelted my head. I couldn’t talk. Something obstructed my throat. I tried to spit it out, but I couldn’t. It was a tube. I thought my head would explode. Then blackness . . .

My dream world began.

My husband and kids, I heard them. But where were they? I tried to touch them, see them, but all went black. It seemed like only seconds later that beautiful, silver-flecked clouds billowed above me. A beam of white light shown about, and within its center I could see a human shape. It was my grandmother, whom I had cared for until she died in my home two years earlier. She wore a long white robe, soft and shimmering as pure silk. The wrinkles had vanished from her face, and the gray no longer mingled with her dark hair. A halo surrounded her, like sunshine glistening on a field of freshly fallen snow.

My grandmother reached out her loving arms. I yearned to go into them as I had done as a child. Mother’s smile (I called her Mother) radiated an aura of absolute rapture such as I had never seen before. I wanted to go with her to that place that provided such happiness and held no pain. My body wanted to rise and lift toward the white-clad figure. The lights were enticing, and Mother beckoned me to her bosom. My body levitated, but my right hand clutched onto something holding me down. It was as if my husband and three children were an anchor, and I held its cable. As my grandmother summoned and the desire to release my hand from the heavy cordage grew greater, my body floated up, up, up—except for the right hand that held on tightly and refused to let go.

I desired the peace and tranquility that Mother in the billowy clouds offered, but the hand held on, and I dared not loosen it. Even in my unconscious state, I knew that by relaxing a hand muscle for only a second, the blinding pain in my head would be gone and I would join my grandmother in heaven. Yet the hand held on. Mother smiled, letting me know it was okay to hold on as she faded into the clouds.

I heard someone call my name.

Mother? I opened my eyes expecting to see my grandmother.

The lady standing beside my bed was dressed in white, but instead of a gown, she wore a nurse’s uniform. “Welcome back. We thought we were going to lose you there for a while.” She smiled. “Your husband and three children are here. They’ve been waiting for three days for you to come out of that sleep.”

I tried to reach for them, but my right arm would not move. The fingers on that hand would not release their grip on the mattress.

The operation was an apparent success. The shunts drained the fluid in my spinal cord, yet my right arm was paralyzed. Deep within myself, I knew. Perhaps I could never explain it to others, but I knew I had made the choice. I elected to live, and Mother approved.

I also realized that I had the courage to undergo the second corrective surgery to stop the headaches. There was still the danger of death when the surgeon’s knife would cut into my brain, but I knew I could not lose. Not with Mother and her tranquil beam of light waiting on the other side and a precious family, for whom it was worth giving one’s right arm, waiting on earth.

Jean Kinsey

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