For the next week I want to take one day each week to describe some of the most prominent defining moments to my life. These moments mean a lot to me.
Moment One: The voice of God
I have heard God's voice. No, I'm not crazy. And it wasn't that voice-in-your-soul that you hear sometimes when you are thinking or praying. I actually heard it.
It was 1985. My brother had been born seven days before, so that would make it September 10. He was in the NICU with some lung complications and my sister was in school. My mom and I made daily trips to the hospital to visit him. My own experience as a NICU mom 22 years later makes me appreciate how excruciating those days must have been for my mom. I just thought the no-touch scrub faucets and the little paper clothes and shoe-covers were cool. I never had a moment's fear about his well-being.
On that day, September 10, 1985, Mom and I were getting ready to go to the hospital. It was midmorning, maybe 9 or 10am. When we opened the door, we found that it was unseasonably cold, and I was sent back to my bedroom at the other end of the singlewide trailer to get my jacket. It was royal blue, with white criscross piping. I went quickly to get the jacket, my mother waiting on me at the front door.
Back in my room, unheralded, unbeknownst, I heard a voice. "Pray for your brother to come home tomorrow," it said. I knew about God, I knew about praying, I knew that sometimes miracles happened. I knew it as surely as I knew that jelly could be either strawberry or grape. Not remarkable in itself.
Mom called me from the front door. Hurry up, it's time to go. I considered grabbing the coat from the back of the chair and running to the door. Then I heard the voice again. "Pray for your brother to come home tomorrow." So I did. Kneeling down, I prayed those words: "Dear Lord, please let my brother come home tomorrow. Amen."
Mom called again. I stood up, grabbed the jacket, and ran to the front door. For some reason I do not know, I didn't tell Mom about it. I wasn't afraid, I wasn't consciously hiding it, I just didn't tell her. We went to the hospital.
I remember standing at the nurse's station with Mom as she asked for a quick update before we made our way to my brother's isolette. I was so short that the counter was above my head, but I remember the voices.
A nurse said something I didn't hear clearly. My mother said, "What?!?" in the way you would say "What?!?!" if someone told you that something you had just saved up for, for years, was actually free, today only. It was shocked, happy, afraid to be happy. There was more discussion between mom and the nurse.
"We have to get the carseat," said Mom. "Your brother's coming home tomorrow."
"I know," I said.
"I know," I repeated. "God told me to pray for him to come home tomorrow."
Mom went white as a sheet (sorry for the cliche -- it's true, it's true!) and I told her the story without realizing that it was all that remarkable. I took the truth of miracles and God and prayer for granted at that age.
And home he came. I remember the phone call Mom made to Dad shortly after, the happiness, the relief. I didn't realize until years later that it was even amazing at all. I think about it sometimes and wonder why I got to hear God, and at that age. I also wonder sometimes if I would hear it if he tried to talk to me again, if he has tried and now I can't hear it. But I'm glad I heard it then, and that he cared enough to tell me twice.