The mother of a young girl facing surgery prays for her daughter's fears to be comforted. The answer she receives is one she could never have expected.
Posted in , Apr 25, 2017
“Sing, Dari! Loud as you can!” Normally my four-year-old daughter loved to sing. Now she just stared, uncomprehending, at the nurse. I squeezed her hand for comfort. The nurse wanted her to sing so she would take deep breaths of anesthesia. I understood that, but how could I explain it to Dari?
The doctor had allowed me to be in the operating room until she was asleep, but I didn’t feel like I was being all that much help. There was so much for Dari to take in: the mask over her nose and mouth, the doctors and nurses in scrubs, the machines, the bright lights, the tables.
Even I must have looked strange to her. My hair was tucked up under a sterile cap and only my eyes were visible above my mask. “It’s okay, Dari. Just sing whatever song you like. The doctor’s going to give you the laughing gas to put you to sleep. Remember you picked out the flavor you wanted?”
“Cupcake!” said Dari. She tried to smile, but her eyes darted around the room again. Those eyes were so full of fear. I’d tried to prepare Dari for everything that would happen in surgery. We talked about how the doctors would make an incision to repair an umbilical hernia.
“They’ll make a little cut and sew it right up,” I’d said. “Cut me open?” Dari had said, horrified. “Sew me?” “It won’t hurt at all!” I promised. “You’ll be home the same day. And back to school a few days later.”
Dari looked doubtfully at her belly button where the doctor was going to operate. “It’ll look fine when she’s finished,” I said. We even googled pictures of belly buttons after surgery. When we arrived at the hospital, the nurses had predicted Dari’s own would be “gorgeous.”
The doctor had told me the surgery was routine, but nothing was routine when you were four years old. “I’m here, Dari,” I said, squeezing her hand tighter. “Let’s sing together.” We got through a few bars of “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.” Then her eyes closed.
“She’s under!” the nurse bellowed. I was led back into the hallway. Now I was the one who was worried. Not about the surgery. I trusted the doctor. I just didn’t want Dari to be scared. Be with her, Lord, I prayed. Soothe her fear.
The surgery was fast—not much over an hour. “She did great,” the surgeon said when she met me in the waiting room. “But the repair turned out to be a little more complicated than we thought. The recovery will take a little longer. She’ll miss a few weeks of school.”
Oh, no, I thought. I’d promised Dari she’d be up and around soon. Worse yet, the doctor said her belly button wouldn’t look right until it healed. Maybe not until after a second surgery. It seemed like everything I’d promised Dari was falling through. What kind of mother was I?
I followed a nurse to the recovery room where Dari was waking up. I kissed her forehead. “Your doctor said you did great,” I told her. “I know,” she said, still a little groggy. “I watched myself.” “What do you mean?”
She pointed at her feet. “I was sitting right there at the end of the bed. But in the other room.” The operating room. Was she describing a dream? “I saw the nurse pull open my pajamas and watched them work on my tummy. It didn’t hurt. I wasn’t scared either. My guardian angel was with me.”
“You mean the lady who asked you to sing?” “No, Mom,” she said, as if frustrated I didn’t get it. “My guardian angel!” “Oh. What did she look like?” Dari held up her hands to show something the size of a doll. Maybe she was dreaming of one of her dolls?
“How did you know she was an angel?” I asked. “Because of her wings,” Dari said. “And because she kept hugging me and hugging me.” Our discussion was interrupted by the nurse arriving with a Popsicle. But I couldn’t stop thinking about that dream—or that angel.
I kept thinking about her after Dari got home. Funny that Dari talked about seeing an angel just when I needed to know she was watched over. The first few days were hard. Dari’s tummy was sore and she quickly got bored stuck in bed.
So to entertain her one day I asked about the angel again. “She was this size,” Dari said, making the same shape with her hands. “She wore a long pink gown with tennis shoes…” She looked around her room—“that color.” She pointed to a lavender pillow.
“Her hair was long. Like salt and pepper. With some strands of pink in it.” The more details Dari gave the more excited I got. “Tell me about her again,” I said. “So you don’t forget her.”
Dari sat up in bed and put her hands on her hips. “Mom, I could never forget my angel.” Of course she couldn’t. How many times did Dari have to tell me her angel was real before I believed that God had answered my prayer? He’d sent an angel to comfort my daughter—an angel she would love and remember all her life.
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