Our family has suffered a tragedy, and we are all trying to process it.
Last week, a favorite cousin suddenly had a cardiac arrest. No warning. Nothing wrong with her heart.
Madeleine (a pseudonym to protect her privacy) was only 54 and in good health. She was bright, beautiful, a wonderful person with everything to live for.
The paramedics worked tirelessly for 40 minutes and shocked her heart multiple times. Finally, Madeleine began to breath again. But the damage to her brain was extensive. She was basically gone.
As the news traveled via text throughout family around the nation, we prayed. Grieved. Believed for a miracle. Tried to make sense of it.
The double tragedy was that Madeleine’s mother, Clare (also a pseudonym) is a favorite auntie. Across the miles, we all felt the emotional slam.
Madeleine and Clare were a team: business partners, besties, always there for each other. We connected them together. “Clare and Madeleine will be at the wedding.”
“Clare and Madeleine made it to the top honors of their corporation – again. They continue to be Number One in all categories.”
“Clare and Madeleine have started a side business. They are so much fun.”
And they were. Both believers in staying positive and sharing a laugh each day. Both settled in the arid Southwest to avoid the humidity and colder temps of the Midwest. Both tall and graceful, expansive huggers and accepting of all our flaws.
Yet now … Clare was left to wait in the ICU as her daughter struggled to breathe. Organ donors waited in line. Doctors shook their heads.
The “Why” question bobbed near the surface.
How could we pray? “God, save her life. But not as a vegetable. She wouldn’t want that. Oh, God oh God oh God.”
How could we let Madeleine go and how could Clare survive without her?
Across the miles and without the benefit of a cell phone or any direct communication, my mother sat in the nursing home. Her brain cells not connecting at the age of 93, muddled by the plaque of Alzheimer’s.
Yet when my sister visited her during this tragic week, Mom held a greeting card from Clare. Spoke no words. Just held it.
Did she sense her sister and niece were tangled in a traumatic battle? Did the Alzheimer’s plaque somehow lift so the emotions of Mom’s heart clearly sailed through?
Was my mother on some higher plane, breathing her own prayers for some sort of miracle?
And the miracle did come. Not the one we wanted, but the miracle of a soul released from the confines of this earth to find its forever home.
At the age of 54, Madeleine stopped breathing and joined her dad, her grandparents, my dad in that glorious place where spiritual hearts beat together. Where love reigns. Where death never enters.
And we are left with a bittersweet answer to our prayers. Grateful Madeleine is free yet shattered for the grief Clare suffers.
The veil between earth and heaven, between earthly life and forever life, is thin. We sometimes glimpse a taste of it as faith and hope merge.
Even when it hurts. Especially when it hurts.
Yet hope continues somehow in the stalled memory of my mother’s brain. She holds a greeting card. She cherishes her family somewhere in her deprived days. She whispers prayers only God can hear.
And we all look forward to the day when Alzheimer’s will be defeated, death will be conquered and good-bye will no longer be spoken.
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