"Everything comes gradually at its appointed hour. " Ovid
My mother had been in a deep sleep for five days, days, taking in no food at all, and a minimum of forced liquid. A “Do Not Resuscitate" sign hung over her bed. Every time I looked at the sign, I shuddered. The finality of the words chilled me, even though the heat in her bedroom was way too high.
She was 88 years old and had reached the end of a long illness. She was still in her own apartment, but I had arranged for around-the-clock nursing care for her; I did not leave her side during those three days.
On the fifth morning, a Sunday, I called my husband and asked him to pick me up and drive me home (some forty minutes from my mother's apartment) so that I could get clean clothes. I had been wearing the same pair of jeans and blouse for four days, having had no idea when I arrived that the end was so near. I also wanted to stop at the grocery store so there would be some food in the refrigerator for the nurse and myself.
Once at my house, I quickly showered and dressed, then threw a few clothes into a shopping bag. We got back into the car. Suddenly, I told my husband that I had changed my mind about stopping stopping at the store for groceries. Something inside me told me that we had to get back to my mother in a hurry-before it was too late.
I rang the bell in the lobby of the apartment building, and the nurse buzzed me in. After the elevator ride up to the 22nd floor, I saw the nurse at the end of the hall, a look of amazement on her face. “It's some kind of miracle!" she exclaimed. “Your mother's eyes are open!"
Hurrying into my mother's bedroom, I was shocked to see that her eyes were indeed open. She was propped up in the rented hospital bed, staring straight ahead. At first, I thought she was dead, and my heart started racing. But then she shifted her gaze and looked straight at me. She had a puzzled, questioning look on her face, as if to ask, “Where am I?" Or, perhaps, “Where am I going?" Then, a grimace passed over her face-a grimace that I have replayed in my mind over and over again. Was it a grimace of physical pain? Of fear? Of sadness? I think by then, she felt no more pain, so it must have been a combination of fear and sadness-deep sadness at leaving, and fear of the unknown. She needed the comfort of being in my arms when she began her journey.
I held her frail body gently, and spoke to her softly, telling her how much I loved her. And then I could feel, and see, that she was gone. . .
I asked the nurse how long my mother's eyes had been open before I arrived.
"Only a few minutes, " she said. "When I heard you ring the bell downstairs, I said to your mother, `There's your daughter. Now you just hold on there. Don't you die before she gets here. ’ And she did hold on. She waited for you. . . "
Thinking about the fact that something told me not to stop for anything on the way back to my mother's apartment-but to hurry as fast as I could; thinking about the fact that my mother opened her eyes when I rang the bell, and kept them open until I got there-so that I was able to say goodbye to her-I suspect that the nurse was right. It WAS some kind of miracle. It was the hand of Fate.
Arlene Uslander, an award-winning journalist and free lance editor, is the author of 14 books, including her latest, which she co-edited, “The Simple Touoh of Fate. " “Some Kind of Miracle" is reprinted from “The Simple Touch of Fate, " which is an anthology of over 50 true inspirational stories from all over the world about peopel's incredible brushes with Fate. The book can be ordered through the Fate website: http://www.thefatesite.com , from online and brick and mortar book stores, or by calling 1-800-288-4677.