Our third baby, Jeffrey, was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) on a midsummer evening in 1997. The referral to a pediatric neurologist came that morning during what was to have been his 2-month “well” checkup.
Oh, the irony. Not only was our beautiful baby not well, he was on the fast track to leaving his earthly family.
My doctor brother, Paul, had examined Jeffrey the day before during a family visit. Paul’s solemn demeanor afterward indicated that we were dealing with something way outside our comfort zone.
After a bit of regrouping, I rationalized that the real purpose for my teaching children with multiple handicapping conditions years before was revealing itself. On our 90-mile trek to the children’s teaching hospital for official word of what was going on, my optimistic self remembered some of the students at Brockman School. I pondered a variety of scenarios and possible “fixes” for whatever lay ahead.
Nothing could have fully prepared us.
Jeffrey’s physical presence in our family was brief, but what a presence it was. From witnessing the power of prayer and faith to meeting extraordinary fellow brothers and sisters in the SMA family, and to being uplifted by the generosity of our family, friends, and small community, we snagged positive vibes wherever we could find them.
There usually was no shortage.
When I held Jeffrey, I noticed that he often seemed focused on something unseen, something far beyond my lap.
Maybe it wasn’t so far after all.
Other families of children with SMA have noted the same behavior in their little ones before they departed to what had been their destination all along — the perfect place.
It’s as if the really pertinent directives were coming straight from the angels.
It took more than a few signs after Jeffrey’s death for me to become attuned to ethereal communication. Since then, I have not only fully embraced the signs (primarily from Jeffrey and my father), but am also quick to credit “coincidences” to angel intervention.
While there have been countless examples of intervention since I wised up more than 20 years ago, I’d like to share the most recent.
I don’t spend much time on Facebook, but on occasion I check things out and am almost always glad I did. Last week, I was “nudged” to Facebook and quickly spotted a post from a fellow SMA mom. She requested prayers for her daughter as they headed to the hospital. I went to her page to leave a comment.
Before I left her page, I noticed another post about a family in her hometown that had endured an unimaginable set of circumstances. The mother and three young children had been in a horrific auto accident. The two older children were killed. The baby, underwater for a half hour and enduring CPR for an hour, is astounding everyone with his progress. The mother is in critical condition. I can’t imagine what the father is going through.
Despite the utter devastation of the family’s situation, there are signs of angel intervention — most incredibly, the apparent healing of their beautiful baby.
I never would have learned of this family had I not been drawn to look on Facebook, and seen the post requesting prayers from this particular SMA mom, and been inspired to leave a brief comment, and paid a little extra attention before I exited her page.
The children killed in the accident were 4 and 2; the little boy’s name was James. Our granddaughter, Clara, turned 4 a few days before this accident. Our grandson, also named James, turns 2 later this month. That was enough of a connection for me to be drawn to their story.
My eyes well up every time I think about it.
Because of Jeffrey and our SMA assignment, a generally optimistic nature, and more than 20 years of “healing” under my belt, I feel qualified and compelled on occasion to offer something positive to others faced with devastating challenges. I consider it a gift and a tribute to Jeffrey to offer a glimmer of hope, encouragement, and empathy to someone else.
I’m not so naive as to believe that it’s all my doing. I’m pretty sure the angels were speaking to more than just Jeffrey those many years ago while I held one of their own so gently in my lap.
It just took me a few years to catch on.
Note: SMA News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of SMA News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to spinal muscular atrophy.