It was an ordinary Thursday afternoon when I received a call from my sister, Susan, who said in a trembling voice, “Sandra is in the emergency department in a Phoenix hospital with chest pain.” Our sister-in-law, Sandra, 51 years old, is the very fit mother of 10-year-old twins and runs 12 miles a week. Barely more than 5 feet tall, she is full of a lot of quiet, joyful energy, so this made no sense to me.
Sharing Susan’s concern, I turned to my husband, Philip (the “real Dr. Phil” I affectionately call him), informing him that Sandra was being transferred and worked up for a heart attack. There was no history of heart problems, only a recent bout of flu. The ER physician, following protocol, sent her to the catheterization lab for a dye test to see which artery was blocked. As my brother, Martin, was talking and showing pictures of their twins to the cardiologist, a nurse came up and whispered in the doctor’s ear. In mid-sentence, he turned on his heels and left my brother standing there bewildered. When Martin heard “Code Blue” over the intercom, he knew it was his wife. She had suffered a cardiac arrest on the catheterization table. My brother immediately started to pray. Meanwhile, Sandra was placed on a ventilator and an external heart pump to keep her blood circulating because there was no detectable heart beat.
This is a situation when Providence moves in Spirit-directed ways and the fervent prayers of loved ones can move mountains. The ER physician, knowing Sandra’s vessels were clear, now realized she was in cardiogenic shock from the influenza. Weeks later, he admitted that the pictures he’d seen of the twin children moved him to facilitate an emergency air evacuation to the Mayo Clinic, knowing they could place a second stronger external pump to help support her rapidly failing heart, which might just keep her alive.
Late into the night, my brother’s church pastor showed up and stayed with him through the wee hours praying while they waited for the air ambulance. The family also placed her on prayer lists in many places. The next day, Sandra showed further positive flu tests and was septic, which means she had overwhelming bacteria growing at a rapid rate in her blood. Hanging on only with total life support for three days, essentially, Sandra was dead.
Dr. Phil, who I believe is an angel in plainclothes, called a colleague, a cardiologist at Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles to discuss any options for her case. The cardiologist said, with great confidence, “We take cases that seem hopeless and we have good results.” The statistics were dire: with no detectable pumping activity in the heart for four days, one out of three people need a total heart replacement, one out of three recover to normal, and one out of three passes away.
“We will take her, Phil, if need be,” the heart transplant team promised.
We wept tears of gratitude.
At the time, I struggled with neutrality, one of my intentions for the year in the Consciousness, Health, and Healing Program. The truth is, I really needed to pray to have neutrality and hold clearly for the Highest Good in my heart for Sandra. I forgave how difficult this was for me and said to myself,
“I have a preference, dear God, that she live. I do want what is for her Highest Good also. Help me keep this straight in my heart, to keep a clear vision and avoid fear and worry.”
During the sixth day in the ICU at Mayo, I requested that my brother allow his children to see Sandra no matter what her appearance. After meeting with a child counselor, they visited her the next morning. When they called her name, her eyes opened and fluttered in response. The children wept silently. Upon returning home, I bought Play-Doh for them to work out their feelings by creating a colorful sculpture. It was a beautiful piece of loving art filled with feelings they couldn’t express in words. A few days later a miracle occurred: Sandra’s own heart started to faintly beat again, and she moved into the category of those heading for full recovery. No transfer to Cedars-Sinai for a heart transplant was necessary.
Miracles can manifest in a myriad of ways. Sandra is from a large family from Mexico. She easily thought of others first. I saw her as a loving wife to my brother and a wonderful stay-at-home mom for their children. At times when her family endured financial stress, she proved to be clear, resourceful, and strong. I wondered if this experience could serve as an opportunity to bring some of the love and care she gives so freely to others to herself. Upon coming conscious, her first expression was one of humble gratitude.
“Gracias a Dios,” she whispered.
The healing miracles seemed to multiply. Each day, she expressed her appreciation and love to the nurses, doctors, and therapists. More nurses started to come from different parts of the hospital to see her, and on day 12 of her ICU stay, the top Mayo Clinic cardiovascular surgeon talked to us just after he had removed her second and last external heart pump. He said, “I’ve got to be honest with you. I thought she was not going to make it. It truly is a miracle and she is going to be okay.” He then opened his arms to embrace my brother and me. I knew at that moment, he had received a deep healing by coming in contact with Sandra. Apparently, the prayers said were meant not just for the patient but for everyone involved.
When she was finally able to speak, Sandra told us that she had seen “so much purple light and angels in the room.” She remembered seeing people who had passed years ago. She told them she was not going to them right now because she needed to come back here to be with her children. It is true that she also went through fears of “dying again” in the early weeks of her recovery. Yet the miracles kept unfolding.
Sandra’s illness occurred three weeks before Easter. I can see the events that unfolded as a modern-day Resurrection story. Resurrection can happen in any of our lives, anytime of year, any day, or any moment. One of the most beautiful gifts from this experience is how Sandra acknowledges knowing she is much loved and is worthy of taking good care of herself—she knows she is the miracle. I took that one in—each of us is a miracle, and we can all “die to” and “resurrect from” our thoughts or emotional choices, actions, or inactions in great gratitude for the miracle of new life.
This whole experience has had a profound effect on what I consider truly important in my life. I now know more deeply the essence and impact of loving communication—I can use my good sense to communicate caring the best ways I know how. It is also a priority to listen more intently to what is being said, even in silent moments. In doing so, I am finding more little miracles that heal my heart every day.