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Sunday, May 18, 2003

Lessons From Life

A miracle of love

LIKE any good mother, when Karen found out that another baby was on the way, she did what she could to help her three-year-old son, Michael, prepare for a new sibling. They found out that the new baby was going to be a girl, and day after day, night after night, Michael sang to his sister in Mommy's tummy. The pregnancy progressed normally for Karen. Then the labour pains came. Every five minutes, then every minute. But complications arose during delivery. Hours of labour. Would a C-section be required?

Finally, Michael's little sister was born. But she was in serious condition. With sirens howling in the night, the ambulance rushed the infant to the neonatal intensive care unit at St. Mary's Hospital, Knoxville, Tennessee. The days inched by. The little girl became worse. The paediatric told the parents to prepared for the worst.

Karen and her husband contacted a local cemetery about a burial plot. They had originally fixed up a special room in their home for the new baby now they planned a funeral.

Michael kept begging his parents to let him see his sister, "I want to sing to her," he said. Week two in intensive care. It looked as if a funeral would come before the week was over. Michael kept nagging about singing to his sister, but kids are not allowed in Intensive Care. Karen made up her mind. She decided to take Michael whether they like it or not. If he didn't see his sister now, he may never see her alive. She dressed him in an oversized scrub suit and marched him into the ICU. He looked like a walking laundry basket, but the head nurse recognised him as a child and bellowed, "Get that kid out of here now! No children are allowed. The mother in Karen rose up strong, and the usually mild-mannered lady glared steel-eyed into the head nurse's face, her lips a firm line. "He is not leaving until he sings to his sister!"

 


Karen towed Michael to his sister's bedside. He gazed at the tiny infant losing the battle to live. And he began to sing. In a pure-hearted voice Michael sang: "You are my sunshine, my only sunshine, you make me happy when skies are gray... " Instantly the baby girl responded. The pulse rate became calm and steady. "Keep on singing, Michael." "You never know, dear, how much I love you, Please don't take my sunshine away..." Her strained breathing became smoother.

"Keep on singing, Michael." "The other night, dear, as I lay sleeping, I dreamed I held you in my arms..." Michael's little sister relaxed as healing rest seemed to sweep over her. "Keep on singing, Michael." Tears conquered the face of the bossy head nurse. "You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. Please don't, take my sunshine away."

The next day the very next day the little girl was well enough to go home! Woman's Day magazine called it "The Miracle of a Brother's Song." The medical staff just called it a miracle. Karen called it a miracle of God's love.

"If you love her enough"

My friend John always has something to tell me. He knows so much that young men have to have older and more worldly wise men to tell them. For instance who to trust, how to care for others, and how to live life to the fullest.

Recently, John lost his wife Janet. For eight years she fought against cancer, but in the end her sickness had the last word.

One day John took out a folded piece of paper from his wallet. He had found it, so he told me, when he tidied up some drawers at home. It was a small love letter Janet had written. The note could look like a school girl's scrawls about her dream guy. All that was missing was a drawing of a heart with the names John and Janet written in it. But the small letter was written by a woman who had had seven children; a woman who had fought for her life and who probably only had a few months left to live.

It was also a beautiful recipe for how to keep a marriage together. Janet's description of her husband begins thus: "Loved me. Took care of me. Worried about me."

Even though John always had a ready answer, he never joked about cancer. Sometimes he came home in the evening to find Janet in the middle of one of those depressions cancer patients so often get. In no time he got her into the car and drove her to her favourite restaurant.

He showed consideration for her, and she knew it. You cannot hide something for someone who knows better.

"Helped me when I was ill," the next line reads. Perhaps Janet wrote this while the cancer was in one of the horrible and wonderful lulls. Where everything is -- almost as it used to be, before the sickness broke out, and where it doesn't hurt to hope that everything is over, maybe forever.

"Forgave me a lot."

"Stood by my side."

And a piece of good advice for everyone who looks on giving constructive criticism as a kind of sacred duty: "Always praising."

"Made sure I had everything I needed," she goes on to write.

After that she has turned over the paper and added: "Warmth. Humour. Kindness. Thoughtfulness." And then she writes about the husband she has lived with and loved most of her life: "Always there for me when I needed you."

The last words she wrote sum up all the others: "Good friend."

I stand beside John now, and cannot even pretend to know how it feels to lose someone who is as close to me as Janet was to him. I need to hear what he has to say much more than he needs to talk.

"John," I ask. "How do you stick together with someone through 38 years, not to mention the sickness? How do I know if I can bear to stand by my wife's side if she becomes sick one day?"

"You can," he says quietly. "If you love her enough, you can."

Contributed by Bill Walls (Culled from the Net)

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