WAS RAISED TO BELIEVE IN MIRACLES. My religious
training included instruction in the ten plagues of Egypt, the parting
of the Red Sea, and stories of the burning bush. These stories enthralled
me and my indoctrination was thorough and extensive. And then, I
went to college.
As a freshman at the University of Texas in Austin, I signed up
for my first philosophy course taught by a famous professor who
was a favorite around campus. He was dynamic and a bit theatrical.
He would entertain his students by shouting that we had to learn
to think for ourselves. In the classroom he used hand gestures and
voice intonation to command attention. “Question, doubt, don’t
take for granted: think, think, think!” he would shout.
completed his course with stronger faith than they ever had before.
I ended up a non-believer. I kept that to myself for a long time,
not wanting to upset my deeply religious family. I was concerned
they would be hurt and worried about my soul.
I continued to attend religious services and even became president
of our sisterhood at the synagogue. But as far as the biblical stories
were concerned, “Humbug,” I thought to myself. And then
a chain of events occurred in my life that restored my faith in
my religion and, in fact, all religions.
I was about to deliver my third and last child. I was delighted
to be having this child and was hoping that it might be a boy as
we already had two beautiful daughters. It would be nice to bring
home a brother for them to love.
I waited too long and my water broke at home. We had to hurry, but
fortunately, the hospital was only a short distance from home. We
made it to the hospital, but I never made it to the delivery room.
My baby was born in a hallway, delivered by a nurse who was not
pleased that I had waited so long to come to the hospital. In all
the confusion, I heard that it was a boy and I felt elated. Then,
they put a mask over my face and took me into the delivery room
to complete the procedures. I remember waking up and asking to see
my baby, but I was quieted by the nurses and my doctor. I received
a shot that put me to sleep.
I awoke hours later in a hospital room surrounded by my husband,
parents and sister. They looked ashen-faced and I immediately knew
that something dreadful had happened. Our pediatrician told the
family that our baby was born with underdeveloped lungs. He had
been rushed by a special ambulance to the neonatal intensive care
unit at CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Children’s Hospital and was not
expected to live.
Thirty years ago, medicine had not advanced to the degree that it
has today. In fact, former President Kennedy and his wife had lost
their son to the very same condition, which was called Hyaline membrane
disease. Today, it’s known as respiratory distress. Needless to
say, I was devastated. I left the hospital without my child, but
not before we gave him a nameMatthew. We were advised to go
home and pray. In the meantime, my baby was on life support and
putting up a valiant struggle to live.
I was not allowed to go to the hospital to even peek at him, as
my well-intentioned family believed I would be better off not seeing
him fight for his life, or to get too attached. Each afternoon for
two weeks, one of Matthew’s doctors would call and tell me
that he was a fighter, but that nothing had changed. And then, one
glorious day, a doctor called to say that Matthew’s lungs had inflated,
his fetal blood flow had reversed itself, and that I should come
down to the hospital to bring my son home. “That boy is a
tiger,” the doctor said. “He’s a medical miracle.”
We got into the car and started on our way. As we were leaving our
neighborhood, we were awestruck by what we discovered at the end
of the street near our home. On a big empty lot that had been filled
with bulldozers for some time, there was a huge billboard. It read
“Future Home of St. Matthew’s Church.”
I believe in miracles, and each and every day when I’m driving past
that big, beautiful church, I thank God for my son and for the miracle
of his survival.
San Antonio, Texas