74: Breath of the Heavenly

74: Breath of the Heavenly

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Touched by an Angel

Breath of the Heavenly

Angels are never too distant to hear you.

~Author Unknown

The doctor’s words terrified me, and I clutched my baby girl tighter to my chest. No, Lord. No. Please, not again.

Growing up, I’d always wanted to be a mom. While other girls dreamed of careers or exotic travels, I’d dreamed of motherhood. So when I married my husband Terry, it wasn’t long before we started trying to have a family.

We were overjoyed when we found out we were pregnant with our first baby. Everything I’d ever dreamt about was finally coming true! But soon after the positive result, I miscarried.

We were devastated. The doctor told us we were young and should try again, so we did. Another attempt ended in a miscarriage. I managed to carry a little girl named Shannon full-term. But minutes after being born, doctors whisked her away to perform open-heart surgery. She died almost instantly. Thirteen months later, a little boy named Christopher followed.

Four babies lost within four years.

There are no words for such tremendous loss. Terry and I waded through the pain, clinging to hope on some days, to each other on others.

Our hearts had finally started to mend once we’d adopted our three girls.

Now the doctor was telling me that the youngest, Rachel, had respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, a dangerous respiratory illness that would have to be monitored closely. I listened numbly as he told me about the oxygen tent and nebulizer I’d need to pick up for her. It was treatable, but it could also be deadly. Especially in infants.

When we made it home that night, I couldn’t even think about sleeping. How could I when I knew my little girl would be laboring for every breath she took? The oxygen tent wouldn’t fit into our bedroom, so Terry set it up in our daughter Lizzie’s room instead. I was petrified to not have Rachel in the same room as me, but what could I do? She needed help breathing, and I couldn’t help with that. The oxygen tent could.

Laying Rachel down in her crib that night, I told Lizzie to call if she or Rachel needed anything. I lingered over goodnight kisses much longer than necessary, then reluctantly stepped out and closed the door behind me.

Terry fell asleep instantly, but I couldn’t even close my eyes without starting awake, thinking I heard Rachel crying. Twice I got out of bed to check on her only to find her sleeping peacefully.

Standing at their doorway for the third time, listening to her ragged breathing and the hiss of the oxygen tent, I finally let the tears fall. I hated seeing my baby like this. As I walked back down the dark hallway to my room, I prayed. This was bringing back a lot of unwelcome memories. The grief was still so fresh.

I fell asleep praying.

Sometime after midnight I jerked awake. When had I fallen asleep? Was everything okay? Was Rachel okay?

I threw the covers aside and sped across the hall. I forced myself to calm down before I opened their door. The hinges squeaked open as I caught Lizzie sitting straight up in her bed.

I was just about to ask what she was doing up when she spoke, her tone soft and reverent. “Mommy, it’s okay. There are angels in here!”

I stared at her in shock, wondering if she’d just woken up from a dream. But she didn’t sound sleepy at all. In fact, she sounded wide awake.

Finally, my mouth moved. “What do you see, Lizzie? Where are they?”

I followed Lizzie’s finger to first one side of Rachel’s crib. Then the other.

Peace overwhelmed me, and I knew Lizzie was talking about more than just a dream. I realized God was here and I could rest easy because He would take care of my baby. I went back to bed and fell into one of the deepest sleeps I have ever experienced.

The next morning, I grilled Lizzie as she colored pictures of the angels she’d seen. I asked her what they looked like.

“Well, they had big feet,” Lizzie said.

“Big feet?”

She nodded. “And big wings.”

“Did they say anything to you?”

She shook her head.

“Then why did they come?”

She chose another color from her crayon box. “To take care of Rachel.”

“How do you know?”

She shrugged.

“Why did you tell Mommy it was going to be okay?” How did she know how worried I was?

Lizzie tilted her picture toward her. “Because the angels wanted me to tell you.”

Tears came to my eyes, this time for another reason entirely. Thank you, God. He’d heard my plea. He’d sent two of his angels just to watch every rise and fall of my baby’s chest.

All I’d dared ask for was a healthy baby, and He’d shared a glimpse of the holy with me. A breath of the heavenly.

Many years later, Lizzie described the angels she saw that night as being like a shadow in reverse. They didn’t have any details or features, but were simply white-hot forms with big wings and big feet. She can’t remember how she woke up that night, only being startled to see two figures next to her sister’s crib, and then feeling peace and love like she’s never felt since.

As for Rachel, she’s now a healthy and outgoing eighteen-year-old. It’s hard to imagine her ever struggling for breath. But there are those of us who know better.

~Robin Veldboom

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