Glenda stared through her tears at the darkness ahead, her child cradled in her lap. Beside her, her husband Tim appeared to concentrate fiercely on the road. They’d passed no traffic for miles, but never once had his eyes wavered from the road.
“Do you think we’ll ever take her home again?” Glenda ventured to ask.
She brushed the top of her child’s head with her lips and looked at her husband, the doctor’s angry words still fresh in her memory.
“This child should have seen a doctor weeks ago.”
Despite their protests that they had taken her to a doctor many times over the preceding weeks the doctor refused to believe that his locum had failed to correctly diagnose the child’s illness.
“Get her to a hospital right now. If you’d done that earlier she might have had a chance of surviving. But now …”
Glenda swiped at tears with her sleeve as they approached the edge of town. There were cars now. She wondered about the people in the cars: were they going home? Would the three of them drive this way again – going home?
Tim’s voice surprised her. He was praying out loud. “Lord, we thank You for our baby girl. We thank You that You know the plans You have for her life – for all our lives. Plans to give us hope and a future. We thank You that our son is already safely in Your care and that we will see him again one day. Father, we just pray for Your strength and comfort in the hours and days ahead. And Father, we plead for our child’s life. If it is Your will, we ask that You spare her life – that the doctors and nurses will be able to give her the care she needs. … But not our will, but Yours be done.”
Tim turned to face her now. “It will be okay. Whatever happens, it will be okay.”
Glenda nodded dumbly as they turned into the hospital grounds. Suddenly nurses in starched uniforms were lifting her baby from her arms. She wanted to protest. Just one more hug, please. They’d taken her son away without her ever having held him – were they now going to take her daughter away forever also?
Gently Tim helped her from the car and they entered the waiting area. A form was thrust into their hands and they took their time answering the questions. This might be the last thing they did for their daughter while she still breathed.
Soon a nurse came to take the form from them and shook her head when they plied her with questions. Glenda stood and started wandering aimlessly around the waiting room. Tim sat with his head in his hands. She knew he was praying again. A doctor entered the room and immediately she tensed.
“How is she?” Tim asked the question she couldn’t form.
“She’s in a serious condition. I don’t know if there’s anything we can do for her. I suggest you go home and forget about all this.”
“What?” Glenda almost screamed the word.
“If she survives – and it’s a big if – not many children survive an illness like this, especially one that’s been untreated for so long – she’ll be severely brain damaged and will need to be institutionalized. So my advice is to go home and forget about her.”
Tim caught Glenda as she sagged against him. “That’s not an option, doctor. My wife and I will fight for this child’s life. She will not be institutionalized nor will she be forgotten.”
The doctor shrugged and it was then that Glenda saw the lines of weariness and concern on his face. “Suit yourself. Visiting hours are at three in the afternoon.”
Glenda watched as he turned on his heel and left the room. “How could he say something like that?”
“Just doing his job I guess. Let’s ask a nurse if we can see her, then we’ll go home. We’ll come back tomorrow.”
“What if she dies while we’re gone?”
“I’m going to stop on the way home and get the pastor to organize people to pray. But I promise you this, whatever happens, our daughter will be going home.”
“Home here …” and her voice faltered, “or in heaven?”
He held her close. “Only God knows that at this stage. We just need to trust that He’ll do what’s best. For all of us.”
And with that they went to kiss their daughter goodbye.
Author’s Note: In 1967, Meningitis was a serious disease; especially when the patient was a 2-year-old who had been ill for weeks before the illness was correctly diagnosed. With much prayer, Glenda and Tim’s daughter survived and went on to live a normal life. This story was written for my parents who refused to give up on me and who continued to trust God even when things seemed hopeless.
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