The Circle of Love by Samanthi Fernando
You may wonder why I have waited 10 years to write this. Well it is because the great trials and the ultimate miracle that happened around me in late February and early March of the year 2000 were extraordinary. The mixed myriad of emotions is hard to harness. The memories move me in ways which I find hard to express. Yet I feel compelled to tell this story. Because it is a story of immense resilience, faith, compassion and most of all, it is a story of unending love.
The family was awaiting new life. My only sister was preparing for the birth of their second baby. She was almost 7 months along. Their first was a son who had just turned 3. When they found out it was going to be twins, it was not too much of a surprise, given that there were twins on both sides of the family. But what followed was beyond anything anybody could have imagined. My sister was diagnosed with Preeclampsia, a serious condition of high blood pressure during pregnancy. She was ordered to rest at home and her blood pressure was monitored several times a day. When the condition worsened, she was admitted to a nursing home in Colombo, under the care of her gynecologist. Soon the condition became life threatening, and it was decided that the babies must be taken out surgically in their premature state. She was transferred via ambulance to a hospital with the appropriate facilities. The twins, a boy and a girl were born perfectly healthy and were moved to the special care unit for premature babies. We all thought the ordeal was over when my sister was moved to a room in the hospital to recover from surgery….but suddenly things became seriously worse. She was rushed to the intensive care unit and from then on things started going downhill. The ordeal had only just begun. The days and nights became a blur to me. And then the days turned into weeks of anguished waiting for the phone to ring. My mother stayed by her side, getting special permission not to leave the ICU past visiting hours. Her major organs were failing and other organs were in critical danger of failing. The specialists told my mother to pray as only a miracle could save her.
The family sprang into action. My sister’s in-laws and their extended families began non-stop prayers. With a coordinated effort of each family member conducting a special hour of prayer called a holy hour. For a while, I could not pray, I could not think, I was afraid to hope. So I called my friends and co-workers and asked for their prayers. My father asked our friends and relatives at home and overseas to pray, while our grandmother prayed constantly at home, beseeching Jesus, Our Lady, St. Sebastian, St. Joseph and St. Anthony to save her life. Aunts and Uncles prayed with unceasing faith, coming to the hospital to visit her and calling us to inquire about her. Visits were made to the venerated Queen of Angels shrine in Moratuwa where the Blessed Mother Mary’s image had appeared and to numerous other places of worship. In the meantime my Godmother, in Thailand at the time, made a very special novena to the Blessed Marie Eugenie who was known for her miraculous powers and divine interventions. People came and prayed at her bedside in the ICU, and others dedicated masses to her in church. By word of mouth, members of diverse Christian congregations asked their pastors and fellow worshipers to pray for the recovery of the young mother of three whose life was in danger.
Help and support came in numerous ways. My sister’s husband organized relatives, friends and co-workers to donate several pints of blood to replenish the blood bank due to the blood she had to receive to stay alive. Friends and relatives started sending large amounts of money, to help pay the increasingly expensive hospital bill. Family friends and cousins joined the vigil and called with their love and support. My mother’s boss allowed her to take the time off to stay with my sister. My father’s closest friends stood unwaveringly by his side. Our closest cousins talked with me every day and accompanied me to the hospital whenever possible. Doctor’s from different areas of specialty, gave extra attention and cooperated with each other in a coordinated effort to stabilize her. The nursing staff and other hospital personnel were helpful and concerned. The twins were temporarily taken into the home of my Brother-in-law’s Aunt and Uncle, where they were given the utmost of care and affection.
My birthday came and went and it was the first ever birthday where my sister was not the first person to wish me. On most days I headed to the hospital, in the mornings, during lunch and after work. My father drove to and from the hospital, taking my mother clothes and supplies while she practically lived inside the ICU. At home, I was faced with the dilemma of what to tell my 3 year old nephew who was sorely missing his mother. It was impossible to let him see her with all the tubes and scary monitors. So I tried to distract him and take him on short outings. Fortunately his nanny at the time was kind and resourceful. She would keep him occupied with her songs and stories. One day I took him out and ended up going to our parish St. Thomas’s church. That day I knelt down and really prayed and I asked my nephew to pray for his mother to get better and come home soon.
One night the doctors told my mother that if my sister fell asleep she would fall into a coma and my mother stayed up the whole night talking to her, vigilantly watching her and keeping her awake until that danger was past. But the agony did not seem to end. The condition would not become stable. It was as if God himself wanted to take her away from us. One night I dreamed that it was dark and I was outside looking for my sister who was lost. I searched for her desperately in our old backyard where her new house now stood. I passed beneath the coconut trees and the pigeon orchids we used to have, calling out her name and I could not find her. The phone rang very early that morning and the news was bad. My sister had been put on a medical ventilator as she was unable to breathe on her own. Desperation filled our household as we wondered, what would happen next….
But the circle of love that radiated around my sister who is precious to so many, turned things around for her. All her organs eventually bounced back, her health was restored and she was able to come home to recover and raise her children. The unbroken chain of faith and compassion, centered in our family, had extended far and wide, in Colombo and its suburbs, beyond Sri Lanka, to our loved ones in the UK, Australia, Thailand, and USA. Reaching into some place where the Angels reside and calling upon the divine powers of the Almighty. The miracle of her complete recovery was the result of the will of those who loved her and wanted her to live. It was their combined unselfish and generous actions, prayers and kind thoughts that made up the miraculous circle of love that saved my sister’s life.
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“While we cannot ever thank all of you enough…I hope you know that nothing is forgotten.” – S.F
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Copyright 2010 Starsafire Poems - Samanthi Fernando, California, USA