The swoosh from my phone startled me from my slumber at 6 am on Sunday the 15th of December. It was a message from my son alerting me that his newborn daughter was to be airlifted from the hospital to a major children’s hospital over an hour away. Fifteen minutes later, our son was baptizing his sweet newborn baby, and in another fifteen minutes I heard the sound of the life-lite helicopter flying over the house where I was watching their year old daughter. “Lord God”, I thought, “there she goes. Please keep her safe! Fulton Sheen, pray for her”!
Our son and daughter-in-law had been due to deliver their second daughter on the 21st of December. Everything about the pregnancy seemed to be healthy, with no concerns for their daughters health. The decision to induce the week before was not out of health concerns but to be settled in and relaxed with both girls before Christmas. Labor was fairly quick and everything about their baby seemed perfect. Hours later however, after several attempts to nurse, it was clear something was wrong. Several tests revealed some sort of obstruction making it impossible for her to eat. Surgery would need to be done soon and although it was possible to do the operation there, no specialists of the sort she needed would be at the hospital in the following days. She needed to be airlifted to a bigger hospital and spend at least two weeks in the NICU.
Now our children were in one hospital and their newborn whisked away to another hospital with a snowstorm coming in-between and no way to get there to be with her for two more days. So many things went through their heads as they worried about her, when they could be released and travel, and where they could stay.
The Inn Was Full
The Ronald McDonald House for families was full. They wouldn’t be even be able to get on a waiting list until they got to the hospital and met with a social worker. We had some family in the area but they had no room and were also down with sickness. Where could they stay in their time of need?
Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn (Luke 2: 4-7).
The next day I put out a request on social media for help. Did anyone in the area of the children’s hospital have room to take in a family of three tomorrow? It seemed like a far shot, especially just before Christmas, but we had to try. Imagine our surprise and joy when two families (people we did not know) both responded and nearly the exact same way! “Yes! We have room at the inn”! In fact, the first host family not only had room…they had the barn! It was a large old home with a barn which was made into a guest house. This family had seven kids, one of which has medical needs making it important for them to be near the hospital. They love children and have been eager to help in any way. Our kids however would need to vacate just before Christmas as out of town family would be coming in to stay. As it turned out, the second host family was ready to receive them.
This second family had grown kids with only one of them visiting for Christmas. They would all be out of town on Christmas Day, and we were welcome to come together in their home so that we could all be together. Offering our profound thanksgiving for the charity of strangers, the hostess replied to me, “I know, but imagine how blessed we feel to be able to be Christ’s hands here.”
Now, back to our dear beautiful girl in the NICU. Recovery from major surgery is a battle for anyone. Each day as our kids have to leave her to take care of her big sister, they pray with a blessed holy card and prayer asking Venerable Fulton Sheen’s intercession. There have been setbacks, including a collapsed lung and fever spikes, but this little one is a fighter. She seems to finally be on course to healing but it will be a longer hospital stay than expected. Where could they stay next?
As there are no coincidences with God, I don’t know why we are constantly surprised by His timing. The day they had to be out from the second host home, the first family was ready to receive them back to the ‘barn’, available the exact same day.
Parallels With the Holy Family
As I reflect on all of this…pondering all things in my heart along with the Blessed Mother, I can’t help but see how our kids and their baby have been plunged into the mystery of Christ’s birth in a profound way. From the joy of expected birth, to an unexpected journey to a town with no room, to a barn; a stable to offer them warmth and comfort from their journey. From the strangers who seek to be Christ’s hands to others and the joy it brings them, to those who seek to help with intercessory prayer and financial needs.
None of this is lost on them or any of us. Being in the midst of the struggle it is sometimes difficult to see the many blessings as we plead for the life of a new born babe. No doubt as we keep all these things in our hearts and time allows us to look back and better see the mystery of this time of joy and suffering, we will see God’s perfect plan unfold, maybe not completely, but bit by bit. This little life has already effected so many people. I believe the ripple effect will be far reaching, as it is with all of our lives when we live by faith.
Lady in Blue, Pray For Us
We continue to ask Fulton Sheen to lead us in prayer. Each time I ask him, I hear his melodious voice in my ear, “Lovely Lady dressed in blue, teach me how to pray…God was just your little boy, and you know the way.”
Venerable Fulton Sheen, pray for us. Our Lady in Blue, pray for us!