Carol looked out the window at the blossoming trees. She thought about the last month of her life, equating it to the buds about ready to pop. She couldn’t believe how her life had changed in such a short time: being shot, almost dying, and meeting her mother. But it all started a month ago after she had spent five years in a mental hospital. She was desperate to be released and lead a normal life.
Carol closed her eyes and slowly turned.
A man in a white coat carrying a clipboard stood in the doorway. “I’m Doctor Jensen. May I come in?”
Carol took a deep breath. “Where is Doctor Stanley?”
“I’m sorry, Carol. I don’t know how else to break this to you. Doctor Stanley was in an accident. He didn’t make it.” Dr. Jensen entered Carol’s room and closed the door.
He moved towards her, and his face appeared compassionate but also motivated. “I will be ordering tests and then making my own evaluation.”
For the first time in five years, Carol felt hope that someone would listen and try and help her. “Thank you for trying to help me. You’re a fresh of breathe air and an answer to my prayers.” She smiled breathing a sigh of relief.
He smiled saying, “I’ll see what I can do, Carol.”
He left the room, and Carol began to dream of what life would be like to be out of the hospital.
After a week Dr. Jensen came back with reports in his hands and a grim look on his face. “There is no apparent reason for your diagnosis of mental illness. Someone must have influenced your doctor to hospitalize you. If he was alive I would have his license taken away.”
Carol stared at him in disbelief then started crying. “Oh, thank God! I knew I wasn’t sick, but no one would listen to me. You are the first person to believe in me!” She wiped her tears with the back of her hand. “What I don’t understand is why someone didn’t look into this earlier.”
“Unfortunately, nurses hesitate to question a doctor’s instructions. I will order your discharge and see to it that your return to a normal life is gradual.”
Carol spun in circles with her arms stretched to the ceiling. “I’m getting out!” But her excitement quickly turned to fear. She faced the doctor and frowned. “Where will I live?”
Dr. Jensen took Carol by the elbow and guided her to a nearby chair. “You will go to a reputable board and care home for a short time. Your finances will be taken care of by SSI. In fact, you will receive a retroactive check.”
Carol wrung her hands and flashed him a weak smile. “Will there be someone who will help me? My parents died, and I don’t know where my brother is.”
Dr. Jensen put his hand on her shoulder saying,” I have a social worker in mind. Susan is knowledgeable and caring. Perhaps she can even find your brother. It isn’t exactly in my job description, but I intend to keep track of your progress. However you will have a primary Doctor. I have one in mind. His name is Dr. Lyons.”
Mean while in a house about tem miles away the suggested social worker lived with her husband Jack. It was early in the morning and Susan rolled over and moaned. The sun formed early morning beams of light into the bedroom, signaling the start of another typical day. She threw back the covers, pushed her long blond hair away from her eyes then squinted at her reflection in the mirror. “Do I really look that old?” She laughed at herself.
After showering and dressing, she made her way downstairs to the kitchen where her husband was making breakfast. Susan gave him a peck on the cheek. “It smells good, Jack.” Glancing at her watch, she sighed. “I only have a half hour, but I wouldn’t want to miss your eggs and bacon.”
Jack grabbed a plate from the cupboard. “The bacon came out pretty good this morning.” He dished some onto the plate handing it to Susan. “What’s your day looking like?”
“I’m going to visit a young woman today who’s just been discharged from a mental hospital where she’s been the last five years. Can you imagine that?” Susan pulled up a chair, grabbed a fork, and devoured the bacon.
“No, that’s hard to picture anyone being in a mental hospital that long.” Jack shook his head as he poured coffee into Susan’s cup. “Your work is a ministry I couldn’t do. I would get too involved in their pain and suffering.”
Susan picked up her coffee and held it between her hands. “Oh, I find it rewarding. It’s hard sometimes, but when I see them become part of the community and use their gifts and skills, it reminds me of why I do this. I think it was meant to be.”
Jack sat across from her, and a comfortable silence settled over them while they finished breakfast.
Susan wiped her mouth on her napkin then kissed Jack. “Have a great day, honey. See you later.”
At her office, Susan checked e-mail. She looked up and smiled when Jill, a co-worker, popped her head through the door.
“Did you have a good weekend?” she asked Jill.
Jill shrugged. “Yeah, it was all right. I took the kids to the movies. You know how that goes. I had to remind them to stop talking and not to eat all the food in the snack bar.” She laughed.
Susan took a deep breath. “I’m going to see Carol today. Remember me telling you about the girl who’s been in the hospital for five years?”
Jill nodded. “I remember. Let me know how it works out.”
When Susan arrived at Carol’s board and care, she found an ambulance and several police cars parked in front. Worry gripped her as she got out of her car and approached Carol’s door. Paramedics knelt beside a young girl on the floor, desperately trying to save her life.
Susan introduced herself to the paramedic as she pressed a blood-soaked bandage against the girl’s chest. “What happened?”
The medic reached into his emergency kit with his free hand. “Her brother dropped by and was high on drugs.” He handed an IV bag of clear liquid to his partner. “Carol wouldn’t give him money for drugs, so he shot her then ran off. I think he only meant to scare her.”
Susan took a step back and gasped. “Is that Carol?” She pointed to the young girl fighting for her life on the floor.
The man nodded. “One of her neighbors heard the shot and called us.” He placed his gloved fingers against Carol’s neck, checking her pulse. “Carol must be quite a girl. She just kept saying, ‘Jesus, forgive him.’” The paramedic shook his head. “I’ve never seen anything like it. After that, she passed out. We’re taking her to the hospital if you care to come along.”
Susan swallowed the lump in her throat and nodded. “Yes, I’ll follow you. I want to be there when and if she wakes up.” Susan quickly went to her car.
Carol’s faith amazed Susan. Even though she still hadn’t met her, the young woman’s spirituality impressed her.
When Susan got into her car, she called her supervisor to explain what had happened. She let Don know that she planned to follow the situation.
“Stay with her as long as you need to. I’ll cover any other appointments you have. Carol needs you right now.”
Papers shuffled in the background, and images of Don’s disorganized desk crossed Susan’s mind. She smiled as she pictured him rummaging through scattered files, yet always finding things quickly.
“I just found the record of her background. It doesn’t list any family except her brother. Stay with her, Susan, you’re apparently the only person she has right now.”
Carol’s family situation saddened Susan. She decided to go to her recently established house and gather whatever she might need while she was in the hospital. Susan spotted a Bible near Carol’s nightstand and thought it might bring her some comfort.
When Susan entered the hospital, she went to the ER and found the nurse in charge. She introduced herself as Carol’s social worker and asked if she could have her room number.
The nurse referred to a chart then looked up with a smile. “Yes, she’s in two eleven, but they’re still examining her. Would you like to stay in the waiting room?”
“Yes, that would be fine. Thank you.” Susan walked to a seat near the television where she waited several hours before a doctor came.
“I believe you are Carol’s social worker,” he said approaching her.
Susan stood up. “Yes, I’m Susan. How’s she doing? Will she be all right?”
“Her condition is not good.” He placed his hands in the pockets of his lab coat. “We’re trying our best. She is a lucky young woman to be alive at all. The bullet came close to her heart, and we aren’t sure she’ll survive the night. Her heart is fragile.”
Susan’s stomach twisted in knots thinking about the uncertain future of this poor girl. “I wish she had family to support her during this time. Do you know when I will be able to see her?”
“She’s awake now, though drowsy because of the surgery, however, she’s able to speak. I think it might help her to know that you’re here and care. She kept saying Jesus as soon as she woke up. This girl must have a deep faith.”
“Yes, it seems she does. I’m going in to see her. Thank you.” She started past the doctor then stopped. “May I have your name and contact you if I have questions?”
He shook his head saying, “My name is Doctor Lyons. Feel free to contact me at this number.” He handed her a business card. “I will give you updates on her progress. There’s something very special about her. I just can’t put my finger on it Don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.”
Susan was a little nervous about seeing Carol. Especially since she might not survive the night. What would she say? Susan’s stomach tightened; she usually knew her clients well before they had a crisis and therefore knew how to comfort them. Not having met Carol put Susan in a difficult position. Especially after Carol’s treatment in the mental hospital.
Susan took a deep breath and opened Carol’s door to find her hooked up to machines. She looked so angelic and fragile with her eyes closed and her beautiful long brown hair fanned out across the pillow. She couldn’t weigh more than 100 pounds.
Susan went to her gently touching her shoulder. “Hi, Carol, I’m Susan, your social worker. I wanted to see you and find out how you are feeling.”
Carol slowly opened her eyes. “Hi, Susan.” She took a labored breath and tried to smile. “How do you think I am doing?”
“I think you’re doing great and working hard to regain your strength!”
Carol closed her eyes again but reached out and took Susan’s hand. “I’m very tired, and my chest hurts. But my spirit is good. I know I’ll recover. Jesus is with me.”
Susan didn’t know what to say in responce to Carol’s exhibition of faith and optimism. She didn’t want to diminish Carol’s hope in any way.
“You’ll need to stay in bed for a long time until your heart becomes stronger. I’ll help you find a nice place to live when you’re discharged.” Susan reached into her bag. “I brought you some of your clothes and your Bible.”
Carol’s eyes lit up. “Oh, thank you! How did you know I needed my Bible?”
“I didn’t. I just saw it on your nightstand and figured you’d want it here with you.”
“I read it every day. You are so nice to visit me. I won’t mind staying in bed. It will give me the opportunity to read and pray.”
Susan couldn’t resist,” How could you possibly have survived these two drastic events?”
Carol was silent for a moment before replying “I had gone to church but I’m not sure in the Psych. Ward you would call if praying. I constantly talked with God. I told Him about my frustrations and pain. But also my hopes and dreams.” Then she stopped for a moment and smiled,” He’s a good listener you know.” She then looked out the window as if she was remembering something.” I didn’t have time to talk to God. The accident was so painful I just placed myself in His hands.”
Susan stepped back and frowned. What if Carol didn’t make it until tomorrow to read and pray again?
Carol cocked her head. “Why do you look sad?”
It embarrassed Susan that Carol picked up on her concern that she might not survive the night. Susan tried to smile. “I’m sorry you had to go through this ordeal. But I know your faith with help you. Do you have anyone you’d like me to contact for you?”
Carol turned her head and looked at the wall. “Well no, I guess not. I can’t talk about that right now.”
Susan had decided to stay by her side as long as possible. She let Carol know her intentions.
“You would do that for me?” Though her eyes drooped with fatigue, Carol flashed Susan a smile of appreciation and surprise.
Susan patted Carol’s hand. “I wouldn’t want to be any other place. I will either be by your bed, the lobby or the cafeteria. Go ahead and get some sleep.”
“Thank you so much. I—” Carol drifted off before she could finish her sentence.
As Susan took her cell phone out of her purse to call Don, she noticed a woman lingering outside the room. She seemed unsure of herself, and when Susan saw her, she quickly moved away. Susan walked to the door but saw no one in the hall. She decided probably the woman was searching for another room. However, instinct urged Susan to keep looking. She went down several halls before giving up She decided that it was lunch time and she would go to the cafeteria.
While looking over the menu, she spotted the woman again.
Susan approached the middle-aged woman and smiled. “Hello.”
The woman clutched her chest and stepped back. “Hello. Do I know you?” She straightened her oversized blouse which hung loosely on her slim frame.
“No. I saw you outside Carol’s door and wondered if you might be a friend of hers. She could use some support right now.”
The woman swallowed and nodded. “Yes. I know Carol. However, she doesn’t know me.” She cast her gaze to the floor. “You see, I’m her biological mother.”
Susan tried to hide her surprise and excitement as she extended her hand. “I’m Carol’s social worker.”
The woman shook her hand.
“I’m so sorry. We didn’t know she had a mother. Our records showed that aside from her brother, she had no family living.” Susan motioned to an empty table. “Let’s sit down and talk.”
The woman settled in the seat across from Susan and toyed with the salt and pepper shakers. “I had Carol out of wedlock and Carol’s father’s family sent him away to college immediately after Carol was born. I never saw him again.” Her hands trembled, and she quickly folded them in her lap. “My family was very upset and disowned me, but luckily a Catholic home for unwed mothers took me in temporarily. My situation was even more complicated when I had twins. A girl and a boy.” Tears glistened her eyes as she spoke. “Since I was so young and without a husband, the nuns soon found a very good family for them immediately after their birth. I wanted them to have a good life. It was the hardest decision I’ve ever made.” She started to cry pulling a tissue from her purse.
“I think you were wise, and it was a very loving act. May I ask your name?”
“Joan.” She wiped her eyes then folded her hands in her lap again. “There’s something you should know about Carol.” Joan hesitated then took a deep breath. “When I was in the hospital, having just delivered them, the chaplain came to see me. I was holding Carol as we talked. About ten minutes into our conversation, he stopped speaking, and a surprised expression crossed his face. I asked him what was wrong.” Joan gestured excitedly with her hands as if reliving the experience.
“He said, ‘I’m not one who believes in visions or visitations from Jesus. However, as we were talking I saw a bright light surrounding Carol and Jesus smiling at her.” Even though finding this hard to believe, Joan’s face beamed with pride. “He said, ‘She will bring a light to the world and it will shine like the sun. Jesus said that she has a very special mission.’ He went on to say, ‘I believe this to be true. Your daughter has a special message to bring others.’” Joan sat back in her chair. “He said that her faith will be an inspiration to all. ‘You are blessed!’ I couldn’t believe my ears! My daughter! That’s when I realized they both needed parents who could give them a better life. That’s why I decided that it had been the right decision to give them up for adoption.”
Joan’s wiped a tear from her eye and turned away from Susan as if she was ashamed. Then she looked Susan in the eyes and said, “I saw the incident at Carol’s place on the news. I noticed when they took a close-up of her that she had a birthmark on her hand just as my baby had. Also, she was the same age my baby would be today.” Joan’s eyes lit up in anticipation. “I took a chance and came to the hospital to see if this possibly could be Carol. I feel in my heart that it is. How is she? Do you know?”
Susan wasn’t sure what to say. She didn’t have a lot of information. She was afraid if she told Joan that Carol had been in a mental hospital for many years, Joan might feel guilty. She had just found her daughter, and now she might lose her. However, Susan knew she had to be honest, yet sensitive.
“Joan, I just met Carol today. I can tell you she does have a deep faith. She is an inspiration to me even though I don’t actually know her well yet, but after her brother’s attack, she kept asking Jesus to forgive him.” Susan touched Joan’s hand. “In the hospital when they were treating her, she kept asking for Jesus. She must have had parents who encouraged her faith and trust in Jesus. Medically, the bullet did a lot of damage.” Susan brought her chair around to sit close to Joan and spoke slowly with compassion and gentleness. “They don’t know yet what affect this will have on her life. The doctors should know more by tomorrow.” She noticed that Joan was close to tears. Susan put her arm around her shoulder. “Tonight will be very crucial. I’m so sorry to be the bearer of all this bad news.”
Joan relaxed against Susan’s embrace and cried. Then she composed herself and said through trembling lips, “My little girl could die tonight!”
“Yes, but she also may live. Let’s try to see the positive. Especially if you want to visit her.”
Joan shook her head. “No! No! I can’t! She will hate me! I can’t see her!” Joan wept as her body trembled. She ran quickly out the door.
Susan followed her, but wasn’t able to catch her. She wondered if she would ever see Joan again. What would she tell Carol? She wasn’t even sure that Carol knew she had been adopted. Susan walked back in the hospital and decided to check on Carol. When she entered the room she found Carol awake.
“Hi, Carol. How are you feeling?”
“Okay. I do feel tired and weak though. Did I sleep very long?”
Susan checked her watch. “No, just about an hour or so. Do you feel like talking?”
“Can you tell me anything about your family?”
“Well, let me see. I have a twin brother. Our parents took us to church every Sunday and taught us about Jesus. For some reason, I have always felt close to him. We had a fairly good childhood, but our dad died when we were eight. Then our mom was killed by a drunk driver when I was thirteen. That was incredibly hard for us. However, I knew Jesus would help me through. Things continued to become even worse. I was taken to live with my mother’s sister who didn’t want me or my brother. She took me to a mental hospital where the psychiatrist—a distant relative—said that I had tried to kill her. This of course wasn’t true. She told the doctor to keep me incarcerated as long as possible because she was afraid of me. I tried to tell the doctor the truth. He wouldn’t believe me. I found a few friends and tried making the best of it. My doctor was then killed, and I saw a new Psychiatrist. He ran tests and found I had not been mentally ill. That brings us up to the present. I hadn’t seen my brother until yesterday. I don’t know how he found out where I lived. I feel sorry for him. Since he also lived with my mother’s sister, I don’t know what she decided to do with him.”
“I am so sorry Carol. That was a long time to be hospitalized. I believe you, and we will help you have a better life. Do you have any other relatives?”
Just as Carol began to answer, she gasped for breathe and clutched her heart. The emergency bell near her bed rang. Susan ran out in the hall to get help just as medical professionals rushed in.
Susan was too nervous to read or watch television. As she paced the floor in the waiting room, a chaplain entered.
“Hi, my name’s John.”
John cocked his head and his empathetic gaze pierced her heart.
“It looks like you could use a friend.”
Susan released a heavy sigh. “I’m a social worker and one of the people I’m trying to help just went into cardiac arrest. I’m not sure she’ll pull through.”
“I’m so sorry.” He sat down and patted the chair beside him. “The medical team here is excellent, and I have seen them perform some miraculous things. Do you mind me asking about your faith?”
Susan sank into the chair beside John. “I’m a Lutheran, but I have to tell you, I haven’t attended church for many years. I don’t really think about God much; however, I do believe in Him. The girl I’m trying to help has the deepest faith I’ve ever encountered.”
Susan went on to explain Carol’s story.
John crossed his arms and leaned towards Susan. “I haven’t heard of faith like that in a long time. You’re right, she’s remarkable, and I can’t wait to meet her. Do you think God chose you so Carol would in turn help you renew your faith? Perhaps He’s showing you how faith in Him can bring courage and love over and beyond that of any human being.”
Susan leaned back, allowing John’s words to penetrate her heart. “I never thought about that. You may be right. Now and then I do think about God. Maybe I need to pray more and even go back to church.” She chuckled. “Jack, my husband, would like that. I probably do need faith in God more especially in moments like this.”
“What would you like to say to God right now, Susan? We can pray together. Would you like me to hold your hand?”
Susan straightened in her chair. “Yes, that would be nice. Thanks, John.”
John reached for her hand as Susan began to speak.
“God, I haven’t been close to you, but I come to you now. Carol has been through more than we could possibly imagine. She even asked you to forgive her brother. Please help her right now. She has a whole life to live and we would like to help her. Please let her live! Amen.”
John squeezed her hand and smiled. “That was a heartfelt prayer, Susan. Would you like me to see if I can learn how Carol is doing?”
“That would be great. Thanks.”
Susan thought about what he’d said and also her brief interactions with Carol. Carol had inspired her with a desire to follow Jesus. The chaplain who’d seen Carol right after her birth was right. There was something special about her. Susan flipped through a magazine absentmindedly until John returned.
He looked as though he’d just had a wonderful spiritual experience. His face was flushed and he had a smile which came straight from the heart. “Susan, I have good news. She came through surgery.”
Susan couldn’t hide her emotions and wept into her hands. “I was so worried about her. This is wonderful news! Thank God!” Susan hugged John.
“They just gave her medication to help her sleep. It was tough. They almost lost her. Apparently, just before I entered the room it was touch and go.”
Susan clasped her hands to keep them from trembling. “It must have been extremely tense John.”
John guided her back to her seat. “They’d tried everything, and it looked hopeless. They were about to record the time of death when her monitor showed a flat line.”
Susan gasped as she sat down.
“Then for no understandable medical reason, her heart rate came back to normal. She even regained consciousness and kept saying, ‘Jesus in a meditative manner.’” John clasped his hands together and smiled. “Do you realize it was at the same moment you were praying?”
“John, I don’t know what to think or feel. Do you really feel Jesus was answering my prayer?” She searched his eyes as if they would answer her question..
“This is truly a miracle. There is no other medical explanation for it. The doctors and nurses looked at one another in shock. They were practically giddy that she had survived.”
“They must have been so elated.” Susan stood up and smiled at John knowing they had just experienced the love and power of Jesus.
“Do you remember telling me about what the other chaplain said when she was born? You won’t believe this, but I also saw a light around her. I have never witnessed anything like that before. I sensed Jesus beside her bed.” John stood up and took both of Susan’s hands in his. “I agree. This woman is designated for a mission of some kind.”
They both were so excited that they couldn’t stop smiling.
John continued explaining that he had taken time out to pray again after seeing her. He sensed Jesus telling him that Carol had spiritual wisdom and faith which could change the world. He felt she had been given a very special gift and it would bring a message of love to all. He indicated that whatever people chose to do with that message was their decision. However, to many people, she would bring healing and strength.
Susan asked if Jesus said how or when this would happen and how Carol would go about projecting the message.
John shook his head. “No. That wawas all I sensed him saying. Whatever went on in that room was a miracle. There are no other words to describe it. She was officially and medically dead. It’s unexplainable in the medical profession.”
“Do you know how long Carol will be sleeping? Would I be able to talk to Doctor Lyons?”
“He told me he would be available in a few minutes.” John sat down shaking his head back and forth. “We witnessed a miracle today, Susan. Jesus was surely present. I think there must be a reason Jesus brought you and Carol together. I don’t know what it is, but it will be appropriately revealed one day.” He stood and took Susan’s hand. “I’m leaving now, but I will pray for you and Carol. You both have your work cut out for you. If you ever want to talk, let me know. The hospital has my contact number.”
She squeezed the chaplain’s hand and smiled. “Thanks so much, John. You have been helpful, and we both pray that Carol will recover.”
John started to walk down the hall but stopped and turned around. “She isn’t out of the woods yet. When she is, it will be interesting to see how she incorporates this experience into her life.”
Susan reflected on everything John had said. Was this really a miracle? Did John actually sense Jesus? She really wasn’t knowledgeable about spiritual matters. However, how else could this make sense? Medically, Carol should have died. What other answer was there?
Dr. Lyons came into the waiting room. His smile lit up his tired face. “I guess John told you what happened. In my twenty years of medicine, I have never witnessed anything like this. By all logic and medical practices, Carol should be dead. We felt we had failed, and had tried everything humanly possible. Then suddenly, her heart rate stabilized, and she was actually awake and talking. I would record this in the medical journal but no one would believe it.” Dr. Lyons laughed. “I wonder how I’m going to explain it in my daily report.”
They both laughed.
Susan agreed, “Yes, I’m not sure anyone would understand.”
“She’s sleeping now and should continue to do so throughout the night. She’ll still having difficulties. Her heart needs rest. I will examine her when she wakes up, and we will decide how to proceed. As for now, she is stable and should be fine. You can go home or back to work. If there are any changes, I’ll let you know.”
They both started walking down the hall.
Susan’s eyes drooped with fatigue; she was ready to go home. “Thank you, Doctor Lyons. This has been quite a day! Even for a social worker. I have had many experiences in my work, but today has been unbelievable!” Susan was about ready to open the door to leave but quickly turned around. “By the way, I met a woman who might be her biological mother. Her name is Joan. When I told her about Carol’s medical condition, she panicked and refused to see her. It’s obvious to me that she loves Carol and would like to see her, but is frightened and insecure. Psychologically, this would be good for Carol, and I think she could handle it. If her mother comes back she has my approval to visit her. Is this alright with you.”
“I think it would be great. I’ll let the staff know in case she decides to return. See you, Susan.” Dr. Lyons raised his hand in farewell then disappeared down the hall.
Susan covered a yawn and looked at her watch. Four thirty. She didn’t have time to drive back to the office and accomplish anything before 5:00, so she decided to go home. She would call Don to let him know what happened and tell him she was taking off a half an hour early.
After her call and Don’s approval, Susan drove home, eager to see Jack. It had been quite a day!