A woman is mired in depression until angels wearing multi-hued robes pay a healing visit.
- Posted on Dec 13, 2011
Everything—my whole world—felt gray, colorless, flat. The beeping machines of the ICU. The doctors and nurses who came in and out, sounds and images. All dim. Like I was trapped in a thick, inescapable fog.
I’d struggled with depression for years so I recognized the signs. I looked over at my husband, Rob, asleep in a chair in the corner. These last two weeks had been an ordeal for both of us. Why was I not getting better?
Nothing made sense. The doctors couldn’t even tell me what was wrong. I clenched my hands into tight fists. I felt...what was it exactly? It had been so long since I cared about anything. Even my emotions were muffled.
I thought back to when we’d come to the hospital, a Monday morning, Rob and I racing to the maternity unit at 5:00 a.m. I wasn’t due for another three weeks, but I’d started bleeding during the night.
Immediately, a nurse rushed me to a birthing room. Minutes later she handed me a baby boy.
“We’re calling him Lars, after Lindsay’s grandfather,” Rob told the nurse. He was grinning from ear to ear.
“Congratulations,” she said. “He’s beautiful.”
I stared into his little brown eyes and felt nothing. No motherly bond. No love. No tingling in my heart. Nothing.
That was the only time I’d held the baby. Rob’s mom had driven up from Illinois, trading off with my mom to help care for Lars and his big sister, Lacey.
I’d immediately gotten worse, much worse. The doctors couldn’t stop the bleeding. I was vomiting blood. My body ached. I faded in and out of consciousness. It seemed hopeless. I wondered if I was dying without the doctors even knowing why.
Late that first evening, suddenly I was floating, slowly rising up through an endless dark tunnel. I exited into a bright, vast open space that stretched out in front of me forever. There was nothing even to help me get my bearings.
I looked to my left. A woman, not three feet away from me, sat next to an enormous golden harp. She gazed at me, not smiling exactly, more like the Mona Lisa, calm and serene. Her blond hair was pulled up in a bun.
But what I noticed most was her long, flowing robe. It was a vibrant, rainbow of colors, arranged like blocks on a quilt. It seemed whimsical, but there was a depth to it, a beauty that increased the more I took it in. Could she really be an angel?
I turned to the right only to be startled by two more nearly identical women. They didn’t say a word, didn’t reach toward me, didn’t direct me in any way. But I hadn’t just happened upon them. They were here for me. What did they want?
They must be here to take me away to heaven, I thought. Isn’t that what angels do?
“No,” I heard myself say. “No.”
The next thing I knew I was back in my room, my hand gripping the arm of a nurse. “It’s okay,” she said taking her hand in mine. “Just try to relax. We’re taking good care of you.”
I tried to take a breath, but I barely had the strength. Wires and tubes snaked every which way across my body, pumping plasma into me, medicine to lower my racing blood pressure. I didn’t know what else. It didn’t matter.
In my depression it all felt like one more burden in my life dragging me down. What was I living for? I didn’t know the answer. Why hadn’t I begged the angels to take me with them instead of saying no?
I tried to remember the last time anything had made me truly happy. But every memory was shrouded in gray. Playing blocks with Lacey, taking her to the park, going bike riding with Rob—I couldn’t imagine myself doing any of it.
Rob and I had tried for years to have Lacey. I should have been thrilled when I got pregnant with Lars so easily. But I wasn’t. Some days it was all I could do to find the energy to get out of bed and slog through the day. I feared my gloom was getting the better of me.
And now this. Why does everything have to be hard? I was losing consciousness again. Maybe it was too much to hope for an answer.
I awoke with Mom there holding my hand. She gently stroked my face.
“I put your name on the prayer chain at church,” she said. “So many people have called wanting to help. I told them all to pray for you and spread the word. God hears our prayers. That’s the one thing you can always count on.”
Rob and my mom traded off a constant bedside vigil. I knew they were doing their best to comfort me. They told me how well Lars was doing. What a great big sister Lacey was.
But they couldn’t lift my spirits. It was a world I wasn’t a part of. I could see the worry in the doctors’ faces. My body was swelling. I kept spitting up blood. It felt like someone was jabbing a dull knife in my side.
How could I feel hopeful when hour after hour I heard Mom’s whispered entreaties: “Dear God, heal my daughter. Send angels to comfort her.”
Angels, I thought, remembering my dream of rainbow-colored beings. They certainly weren’t gray. What would Mom say if she knew how close they were hovering, ready to take me away?
Mom’s faith never wavered. Every day she reported how still more people were praying for me. “We’ve had e-mails from Wisconsin, and Florida, even one from England,” she told me. “God’s at work. You just need to trust in him.”
I appreciated everyone’s concern. It was amazing to think of people I’d never met praying for me. But it had been two weeks. I felt as miserable as ever.
I looked at Rob asleep in the chair. What more could anyone do? What were the angels waiting for? Why had I seen those angels if not to die? I still couldn’t get over their robes. An explosion of color.
Even in my memory they were vibrant and bright. The way life had once been for me. I’d thought I’d forgotten what color looked like, but the angels had reminded me.
I don’t want to die, I realized. I wanted to be a real mother to Lars and Lacey. I wanted my baby to recognize my voice, to know my touch.
I had wanted to live since I saw those angels. God had sent them to show me the hope my depression had hidden. God, help me see the blessings in life. Let me see the world in color.
The pain didn’t go away, but slowly I felt a peace come over me, a comfort I hadn’t experienced in years. Physically I was still sick, but emotionally I was stronger. I closed my eyes. Within seconds I was asleep.
The next morning a doctor came in my room. “We think we know what’s wrong,” he said. “It’s called HELLP syndrome.
"It’s a very rare condition. No one knows what causes it. But it explains why your baby separated from the placenta, your swelling, the bleeding, the spike in your liver enzymes, everything. We just need to do some blood work and then we can start treatment.”
He returned an hour later, smiling but puzzled. “It’s amazing,” he said. “I’m sure of the diagnosis, but all your readings are nearly normal. You’ll be able to go home today.”
Rob flashed me a big thumbs up sign. “I love you,” I mouthed back. For the first time in weeks I not only said it, I felt it. The whole world felt alive. I couldn’t wait to see the kids, snuggle with Lars, take Lacey to the park.
Life, ever changing, a kaleidoscope of precious fleeting moments, was the most incredible miracle of all. I wanted to savor every one—in fabulous living color! I knew if my vision ever grew so cloudy again, I could count on God’s angels to brighten the way.
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