The phone call came in at 6:00 a.m. or rather phone tag, as family called and their lines were busy when we tried to call them back. My husband grabbed my shoulder as I shook, imagining what could make this ruddy Irishman turn stark white.
Then he said they’d been shot; Patty, his beloved sister, my sister-in-law whom I insisted wear fuschia satin to my wedding, and her husband, who not only provided the gorgeous town car for our wedding, but chauffeured as well and gave us the reception hall as a wedding gift. Their lives passed before my eyes like watching my favorite movies again. Then Paul said Deirdre, their daughter, my niece, had been shot as well but she was still breathing. My God, if ever there was a time I prayed, this was it.
Somehow I managed to delay my grief and focus on my niece. DeeDee had a chance. The first twenty four hours were critical for swelling and brain damage. I emailed everyone I knew asking for prayer, and prayer from their friends and their friend’s friends. Our large family met in the crowded hallway at the ICU in one of the Boston hospitals.
“What’s the word?” we asked as we blew in from the cold and moved through the throngs of people waiting, crying, grieving.
Twenty four hours.
After that, she’d be pronounced brain dead and life support would be removed. A “no resuscitation” order was already in place. I had to see her.
I lost Paul in the crowd and found myself in the middle of an ICU room surrounded by beeping machines, two priests, DeeDee’s boyfriend,, her brother and two friends. As I looked at DeeDee, as difficult as it was to see her hooked into every medical unit in the world, I knew she’d make it. I claimed she’d make it. I don’t think I allowed myself to think otherwise. I wasn’t giving up. Nor was anyone else.
|DeeDee in the pink earrings and friend|
She looked beautiful, even in her hospital fashion and Martian things sticking out of her head. I touched her forehead and her feet and she pressed on my hand. The nurse said that was merely reflex, brain stem activity - primal. They have to say that – I knew it was more. The brain scan showed damage to both sides of the brain. If she lived, it might not be a good thing as her quality of life would be severely compromised. Still I said no in my heart. My DeeDee would make it. She would live and this would change. They said not to get out hopes up. Too late, mine were soaring.
The following day they gave her another twenty four hours because she hadn’t improved but she hadn’t gotten any worse. Others cried. But some of us figured we had more time for a miracle.
The days blurred together trying to piece together what happened, to making sure we ate and slept because we were all in hyper-drive pulling for her. Notes poured in from all over the world that friends were praying for DeeDee, too, and sending healing thoughts her way. We took them all, holding onto them like they were deeds to a house we were making sure the bank gave us. One asked for a Christmas Miracle, I think it was Charlie Volneks’s. And I thought, yes, that is what we need!
The one thing ringing through my heart was God made DeeDee, he could very well re-make her if he had to. Others prepared me for the worst as I prepared them for the best.
And then it came.
Our Christmas Miracle.
The original ct scan showed so much damage, we had been called in that first day to say goodbye to her. The second ct scan showed none of the shrapnel or bone shards had touched her frontal lobe where all regular voluntary life functions come from. Would she be able to speak? Yes. Would she be able to walk? Yes. Would she be able to have a normal life? Of course. It will be awhile, but she will recover completely - the term “complete reversal” was used. And, of course - Miracle.
Whatever men may say, even the best, most educated and experienced, none compare with the one who Christmas is all about, the Great Physician, the Miracle Worker.