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Angels In Our Lives

by Susan Ellis

"Little Light 02" by John Vega

I was twenty-five when I lost my son to cancer and before that time I'd had a couple of minor spiritual experiences but nothing that prepared me for what was to come.

My son had been in and out of the hospital for six months when we finally stopped treatment and brought him home to die on his terms. He'd had radiation, chemo, and one surgery for the brain tumor and the prognosis was very bad. The brain tumor had shrunk but was breaking apart and traveling his spine, creating new tumors. By the time we made the decision to discontinue treatment he was paralyzed from the mid-chest down and his internal thermostat was not working, so we had to control it by alternating blankets and fans. He was also having seizures four or five times a day. The doctors felt I should take him home but I was afraid that I couldn't handle his care on my own. We couldn't afford air conditioning and it was June in Southern California. But the nurses taught me how to take care of him and keep him comfortable and one of the nurses came to the house once or twice a week to help with things I couldn't handle, like inserting the feeding tube when the time came.

Most of our friends deserted us; they couldn't handle being in the house with him there. Many of them had small children of their own and I think it scared them to see him. And others I think thought it hurt me to see their healthy children. I didn't have the words to tell them that I took great joy in seeing their children happy and healthy. The few that remained were lifesavers to me because they would help relieve me from the constant care. When regulating his temperature, we made a game out of splashing him with water to cool him down and bundling him up when his temperature dropped. He laughed and giggled through it all. Most importantly my friends let me talk and they just listened and listened and listened.

When I took him home the doctors said that he had less than a month to live. A week after that my grandfather, who was my hero, died unexpectedly from a heart attack. I was numb with grief. I went to the funeral without my husband because he had to stay to care for our son. I was so angry with God for taking my strength when I needed him most. I was especially angry that I hadn't had the chance to say good-bye.

Two weeks later on the 4th of July my son had a seizure and stopped breathing for the last time. I was holding him when he died and was so thankful that they doctors and nurses had given me the strength to bring him home.

Two days later, the afternoon after his funeral, I was sitting in the living room by myself and I saw a very bright light with rays radiating from the center. There was someone standing in the center of the light and I could hear music very softly just below my normal hearing. I can't describe how peaceful I felt. Then I saw my son walk toward the person who had his hand out to him. I couldn't move, I wanted to reach out to him but I literally couldn't move. The person looked up and it was my grandfather and he was smiling. My son took his hand and turned and smiled at me and they walked away. I sat for the longest time just absorbing it. Then the phone rang.

It was my mother calling to tell me what she had seen and that she knew why grandpa had left us when he did. A few hours later my brother called and when he said I have something to share with you, I knew he had seen it too. Had the two of them not had the same experience, I would have doubted what I saw. I miss my son and my grandfather to this day but if someone had to raise my son besides me I can't think of anyone I would want to have him learn from more than my grandfather. Ironically he was named after him as well.

When I hear people say that they don't believe in anything more than what we have here, reality they call it, I feel sad for them.

Glad to have known an angel.

Susan Ellis divides her time between Houston, TX and Paris, France. For a number of years she was the Public Relations Chairperson for the Houston Poetry Fest, and she was the Managing Editor for the Northwest College Review. Susan's goal for poetry is to see it take a major role in American society. Her wish is to see as many non-poets in the audiences at poetry readings as poets and to someday see kids actually look forward to studying poetry in school. Her goal for Moondance is to publish promising poets as well as bring established poets to our readers. For twenty-five years there was little time for writing while following her husband's career through seven countries and eight states and raising her children. She read her work publicly for the first time in 1997. Since then she has been a featured poet at The Book Stop, First Friday, Houston International Poetry, Poetry In the Arts at the Austin History Center, "Poetically Inclined", and Dialogue Among Civilizations Through Poetry. She is published in several anthologies.



Angels In Our Lives ]
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