She faced serious complications after giving birth, but she was not afraid.
The last thing I remembered, I was sitting in my hospital room, recovering from the birth of my second child, a daughter. It was February, 1971. After a long, difficult delivery my husband and parents had gone home to rest. The baby was in the hospital nursery. I was ready to sleep too. Then my back started to hurt. I told the nurse when she came to check on me and then…
How could I explain it? More nurses rushed in. One said the word “hemorrhage.”
The next thing I knew I was weightless, floating around as if on a cloud. I was happy. My soul was filled with a marvelous peace I was sure no human had ever experienced. Not on earth, at least. Lord, where am I?
But I already knew. There was no place on earth that felt this good. I had to be in heaven. How wonderful, I thought, to feel this way forever!
I drifted happily, imagining a perfect future stretching out before me. Then my thoughts began to stray. I had a lot of people I loved back on earth. People who loved me too. Like my parents. Lord, it will be really hard on them to lose a child. But I had brothers and a sister who would be with my parents to help and support them. Together the family could come to terms with my death. Eventually they would learn to be happy again…
Once more I drifted, relishing the sensation of a world without cares or sorrow. I also became aware of another sensation, a soft touch on my head, gentle and soothing. An image of my husband rose up before me. James. Lord, it will be really hard on him to lose his wife, I thought. But James was young, I told myself. He was a good man. He would find new love. Find a helper, a partner. Someone to depend on. He’ll find happiness again.
Happiness was all around me now, filling my heart, lifting me higher. Nothing could compare to how loved I felt. How perfectly happy. The gentle touch on my head continued. Now I could identify it. Someone was playing with my hair, stroking the strands. I’d done the same to my daughter many times as we sat together, or when I read her a story before bed…
My daughter! I saw both my children clearly before me. Melissa, two and a half, and her little sister, Teresa, not even a day old. I immediately felt something other than joy. Lord, my children. Who will teach them? Who will tell them about you and your love?
I tried to imagine someone—anyone—loving my children as much as I did and I couldn't. I didn’t want to leave them. Not for anything. Not even for heaven. “Please let me go back,” I said. No voice replied, but words appeared before me, as if projected on a screen: “Ask and it shall be given.”
A moment later I was somewhere else. Back in my body. It was as if someone had laid me down gently, holding my head and my feet, like laying a baby in a crib. The delicious sensations of heaven were replaced by the scratchy sheets of a hospital bed. I heard people around me. A doctor, the nurses. “You lost a lot of blood,” the doctor said. “Lost consciousness. We’ve been giving you transfusions.”
The doctor packed me in bandages until the hemorrhaging stopped. By the time my parents and James rushed back to the hospital I was doing better. Luckily I didn’t need surgery. The baby and I were able to go home in a couple of days.
When my mom came to visit, I was still very weak and anemic from the blood loss. But I had no complaints. “That night, after we left, I called the hospital to ask how you were doing,” Mom said. “I called just as everything was happening...”
It was hard to imagine so much going on while I was floating on a cloud of peace. I was only unconscious for about 15 minutes, but my memories of the experience were incredibly vivid. I hadn’t told anyone about my experience. It was too hard to describe. Besides, what if James or my parents thought I imagined it?
“Wilma,” Mom said. “I called the hospital after we left because I knew something had happened. I wasn’t going to tell you, but—”
“Tell me what?”
“I saw you in your hospital room,” she said. “In a vision. The doctors were working on you. And there was someone else there. An angel.”
“You had a vision? Of me?” I said. “You saw an angel in my room?” Mom nodded. “The angel was standing at the head of your bed. She was playing with your hair.”
I felt a tingle on my scalp where the angel’s fingers had been. “The angel took her hand and ran it under you from the top of your head down to your feet. I saw everything so clearly. Watching her I was afraid. I was sure she was taking you to heaven.”
“No, Mom,” I said. “What you saw was the angel bringing me back.” One day I’d return to that glorious place, I knew. Until then, I would be the best mother I could be. I had a new baby and a toddler. When they got older I would teach them about angels. I knew just where to start. With my very own guardian.
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