I can’t sing “Amazing Grace” without tears. I’m not a public crier—I grew up a tomboy, and boys won’t let you play if you cry. You would think I’d avoid the song, but I listen for it and sing along with all of the myriad versions and styles even though my eyes glisten and my throat tightens so much that singing turns to croaking.
My two-month old darling girl spent her first weeks in intensive care as doctors probed to find a diagnosis. I’d stroked her cheek and hummed the tune in her ear during two spinal taps which proved inconclusive. At two months she was hospitalized again for pneumonia. I needed to leave her bedside for an hour, and when I returned she was having seizures—not big visible ones, but a stiffening of arms and legs with an absence of self. The overworked nurses didn’t take me seriously and wouldn’t call the doctor, but I knew something was wrong and called my husband. His “don’t take no for an answer” approach and knowing he was on his way gave me the backbone to insist. Then all I could do was pray and wait with this tiny girl.
I massaged her arms and legs, stroked her cheek, and sang Amazing Grace over and over. I had no trouble accessing the words to every verse as I bent over her small form, singing and waiting. My husband arrived first, then the doctor. And I kept singing. And she watched me, focused on my face and my voice. But the doctor wanted to do a complete exam, and I stopped singing while we watched—and our baby quit breathing. The doctor’s terse order: “Tell the nurses code blue and bring the crash cart.” The nurses’ demand: “Go to the waiting room, and the doctor will see you when she can.”
We hugged each other, cried, prayed, and when I began singing about the sweetness of God’s grace, I heard his voice as clearly as if it was audible, “It’s okay now.” I told my husband, “God is either holding her in his arms or she will be back in ours.” And he gave her back to us.
Fast forward 30 years, and my daughter is miraculously pregnant with a daughter of her own, and her body is overwhelmed with the added assignment. I got a call from her co-worker an hour-and-a-half away that she had collapsed and they were rushing her to the hospital. In panic mode, I didn’t even think to ask which hospital before I hung up. It took three calls to get the information before I was speeding to her side, and the panic hadn’t subsided. I tried to pray as I drove, but that brought too many tears. I didn’t want to take the time to pull over and cry, so I turned on the radio to a Christian station, and heard:
Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see. Hallelujah, grace like rain falls down on me …
The Holy Spirit prayed when I couldn’t, and God sent me a song to end my angst. His message: “It’s okay. I’m with her.” My panic vanished, and I croaked along and drove through my tears.
As the song ended, my cell phone rang. My son-in-law’s report: crisis over and healing in progress. Amazing grace like rain falls down … Hallelujah!
Article by Kathleen Evenhouse, Published in Catapult Magazine, May 18, 2012