In spite of a regimen of asthma meds, my nine-month-old boy wheezed and gagged and coughed. I slouched on the couch, making my torso a forty-five degree incline to keep him upright, to keep him breathing, to keep me alert to when he stopped. I hadn’t slept in 34 hours, and I was at my wit’s end. It was 12:57 AM, and I closed my eyes to pray.
The next instant I bolted upright, eyes wide open, alert. The clock read: 1:00 AM. Three minutes. I’d fallen asleep, and the baby in my arms lay limp, his lips purple, his chest still. I knew the drill, and I had this sudden burst of energy and clear thinking I couldn’t explain. I turned the baby upside down and fingered the back of his throat to get him to gag up globs of clear, frothy slime. And more. And he breathed.
It was January in Michigan, but coats could be a deadly delay, so I wrapped him in his quilt. Car seat? Don’t think so. I dropped him onto the back seat, climbed in and sped through southwest Detroit to Children’s Hospital—the longest four miles I remember. I pulled up near the Emergency entrance next to a sign that read: DON’T EVEN THINK OF PARKING HERE.
Thinking was over-rated anyway. I left the car there, grabbed my bundle and ran into the ER.
Within a minute, a professional team had my boy—lots of commotion—and then I was sitting on a turquoise molded-plastic chair outside ICU. They wouldn’t let me see my baby, so I tried to pray, but my mind was foggy, and it was hard to stay on task. In my head, I knew the Lord Jesus was closer than my breath, that He’d never leave me, but I felt quite alone. And a little confused. Somehow I’d always thought the Lord wouldn’t leave me alone in hard times.
At a little after 10:00 Saturday morning, the doctor came out of the ICU. He bent down and squeezed my shoulder. “Your boy’s going to make it. In an hour, we’re going to move him out of ICU, but you need to get some food and sleep.”
Inside my head was chanting “thank you, thank you, thank you, Lord,” but my mouth was explaining how I had to get home to my other four children. The doctor said he wouldn’t allow me to leave until I’d slept, and he had a tone that could persuade a football player to wear a tutu.
So I called home. My husband Jerry felt double-double teamed and wasn’t inclined to come and get me, so I called my best friend. No matter the time of day, Pat always had a good word. She picked up, and I announced myself.
Instead of a cheery “good morning,” Pat yelled. (Pat had never yelled before—as far as I knew.) Pat yelled, “Where are you? What’s going on with you and Brian?”
“Oh, Jerry told you?”
“You know he doesn’t talk to people.” Even then her voice went tender.
“I was sleeping so deep,” Pat said. “And the Lord woke me up and told me to pray for you and Brian. I’ve been praying for hours. What’s going on?”
Chills tingled up my arms and legs. It felt a bit like being in slow motion. “What time did you wake up, Pat?”
“I looked at the clock,” she said. “It was exactly one o’clock.”
The Lord didn’t need me to care for little Brian. The Lord didn’t need Pat to pray so I’d wake up. The Lord didn’t even need the specialists in ICU. But our God loves us so much that He allows us to do life together, to have a history to remember and celebrate. Remember when God…
Brian is thirty-one years old now, and I’ve seen my friend Pat once in the past twenty-five years. But she and I have a history. We remember a night when the God of the universe woke one tired mom and told her to pray for another tired mom and a baby in southwest Detroit. We remember God is good, and He doesn’t leave us alone.
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