Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Once in a Blue Moon (01/06/11)
TITLE: To Kiss An Angel's Cheek
By Leola Ogle
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My daughter, Denise, was five months pregnant when she found out her baby had Down’s and a damaged heart. She was advised to have an abortion. We believe that all life is precious! Her name would be Angel Faith, our gift from God.
After hanging up from Denise, I make the brief trip to the hospital. Three weeks of a daily routine had become a ritual I could do blindfolded. I pull up to the giant arm guarding the hospital’s parking garage, push the red button and take the ticket. The arm rises in welcome…..or surrender.
I park and mechanically walk the familiar path, automatically tapping one of the magically wired trees as I pass, listening again to the melodious chimes. It’s one of the many delightful features at Phoenix Children’s Hospital.
As I enter the hospital, I show my green wristband to the security guard. He nods; my lips smile in response but my eyes don’t.
I walk the hallways, observing children of all sizes with various maladies, some traversing the halls in brightly colored wagons, some in wheelchairs, their IV tubes encircling the attached pole. The atmosphere is cheerful and caring - a good combination!
Passing the chapel, I notice a chaplain talking to a couple. It could be good news, bad news, or no news. Another man in the corner is crying as he talks on his phone.
I enter NICU trying not to focus on the couple in the outer room talking with their doctor. Hearing “remove life support,” I shudder. I say a silent prayer for their baby who has been here longer than Angel. Stepping through the glass doors, I nod at the nurse behind the window who smiles in recognition. Turning to the shining metal sink, I push the dispenser, watching thick liquid cover my cupped hands. My foot taps the metal bar, and I roll my hands together under the rushing water.
I can see nurses surrounding Angel; her unit is closest to the door. Above her incubator clearly visible to all is Psalm 139:13-16 on bright rainbow paper that I had hung there.
Entering the final glass doors, I suppress a groan at Angel’s fragile body covered with tubes and wires. Her little hand moves. Relief floods over me; she is alive! I smile in greeting at a young couple as they joyfully exit NICU – their baby is going home. Their eyes shift away from mine. It’s okay, I want to say, don’t feel guilty, I’m happy for you.
This crisis passes. God has given us another day with Angel. We laugh, making nonsensical jokes as we leave; a coping mechanism for our inability to help Angel. We also pray; it is what we always do. We call other family members with the news that Angel is still alive.
Miraculously Angel survives another crisis, but each episode damages her fragile heart more. I cry and pray daily; I do both things well. God breathes his assurance that He is in the midst of it all.
After her four weeks on earth spent entirely in the hospital, Angel went home to be with Jesus. We all gather before dawn that Monday morning, awaiting our pastor’s arrival. A nurse approaches us, telling Denise that Debbie is on the telephone. Debbie’s a NICU nurse that had embraced us, but she was off duty. “Wait for me. I’m on my way,” she tells Denise.
Our pastor arrives, and like sentinels on the battlefield, medical staff surrounds us as we join hands while Pastor John leads in prayer. Our soft weeping entwine with his prayer as the machines keeping our precious baby alive are disconnected. It is Debbie who hands Angel to Denise. Angel’s tiny face is bathed by her mother’s tears; her breath whispers briefly before stopping. We each kiss the lifeless cheek, pouring enough love for a lifetime into that brief moment of touch as our tears fall like gentle rain on her silky hair.
On rare occasions, divine encounters happen in the most unlikely ways. Often our human understanding fails to grasp the profound! God dwells in both joy and sorrow!
Our loving, heavenly Father, who never makes mistakes, always has a purpose! Baby Angel brought our family closer together, touched many hearts, and drew some to the Him.
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