You hear miracle stories from time to time:
near misses with car accidents, terminal diseases diagnosed and then healed, and so on. There are things science cannot explain, and outcomes that appear expected with certainty, but then suddenly change course.
I believe in miracles. And this past week, I experienced one.
I was called home to Minnesota last week when my mother suddenly took a turn for the worse. She had a thirty-six hour period of complete delerium from which there was no rest. She had a bizarre and disturbing vision which wouldn't leave her and which she would repeat over and over again. No sleep would come, no soothing would calm, no medication would assist.
Alarmed, my family in Minnesota rallied around her, not leaving her side, day or night. Daughters, son, daughter-in-law, grandchildren, all sat by her side, sometimes together, sometimes in shifts. Speaking softly, patting her hand, gently rubbing her arms, massaging her temples.
Those of us living elsewhere were summoned home. Hearing reports of her declining status, we didn't really need to be summoned. There was nowhere else we would have been but home.
My mother's pastor was called; relatives were notified; end-of-life wishes were reviewed, and legal paperwork was retrieved from her safe deposit box.
Many prayers were being said, from her family, to friends, to people she never knew, to people we never knew. Prayer chains were activated through our churches, and even through Facebook notifications.
Then she fell into a restful sleep. And the miracle began.
When she awoke, she recounted her vision again, but this time she knew how strange it all sounded. She knew each of us, asked about our families, why we were all there, and why did I come home from Arizona again when I had just been here?
Now, as the days go by, she continues to be alert, though weak and very tired. We've changed the constant vigil to visits, and those who came from afar are returning home. I've scheduled my return flight to Arizona.
It is doubtful my mother will return to her assisted-living apartment, and the care center where she's been recovering from a recent fall may become her new, permanent home. But with her usual grace and amazing resilience, she is beginning to understand that this change may be necessary.
The crisis appears over. And the questions continue. What happened? What caused this, and how did it turn around?
Medical interpretation: dehydration and electrolyte imbalance.
My interpretation: God is not ready to call my mother home just yet. She still has a purpose here.
I know that she is continuing to teach me things I still need to learn: Acceptance. Patience. Understanding. Love, on its deepest level.
And I'm more open to learning from her.