Mary-Grace was given the diagnosis of a TEF, (a TransEsophageal Fistula). This is a condition that causes the Esophagus to connect to the trachea (which shouldn't connect to the lungs) but instead should connect to the stomach. This meant that everything in her oral cavity would drain into her lungs. The physician proceeded to tell me they were breathing for her, she was holding 100% oxygen but her CO2 level was dangerously high. The staff was bewildered as to why the blood gases were not improving. The physician reported a transfer to a NICU (Neonatal intensive care unit) for treatment and immediate surgery.
Next, the physician came in again to give an update. The staff at the closest NICU had accepted Mary-Grace but then realized the complications seen on the images that had prompted the TEF diagnosis. Riley's Hospital for Children was our only option. It would take a little while to get the flight team in place to fly from 2 1/2 hours away, leave to re-fuel, then come back to pick up our daughter then to fly her away in the Riley NICU helicopter.
I remember talking so much to others about the Communion of Saints and what a blessing it was that on this day, the 1st Monday of Lent, through Mary-Grace, a wall of prayer was being built up stopping satan from getting to so many people. I knew this was a wall because my sister Terri had came up to my room and told me that Kristie Penn was praying for Mary-Grace all the way out in Colorado. I was so excited because I remembered when her mother was ill with cancer as I had prayed for her out of love. This will be the first time her family knows I was praying but I felt like there was some prayer there in communion with her in heaven. I felt like her soul was telling me, thanks for all your prayers. I had actually wrote a prayer for her when she was ill and after her death, changed the wording to "those suffering with cancer". I stored it in my "prayer section" on my iPhone which was dropped and destroyed on accident by clumsy me so I'll never be able to share this prayer with her family or her good, dear friend, James Poirier.
My friends from work continued to pray for Mary-Grace as well. It was so awesome God allowed this blessing to so many people. Keely was praying for our daughter not knowing yet I had asked her dad in heaven for prayers in communion with me. My friend, whom I respect and adore greatly, Penny, had also said a prayer. This was something that brought me great joy and tears of joy as I had been speaking so much about God for so many months and secretly praying extremely hard she would see more clearly the goodness of God.
Seriously, how blessed I was to see so many lives being touched and receiving God's grace in the first few days of the journey of Lent. This is the season we remember the 40 days Christ fasted and prayed alone in the desert ending with Easter Joy from His Death and Resurrection! He was tempted in the desert by satan and we relate these temptations with Lent. We relate our fasting in prayer with Jesus as we prepare for increase temptations from the evil one. How awesome, God put up a wall of saints on earth and in heaven to destroy the devil's hopeful attempts. How could I be worthy to be apart of such an experience of God our Father, Jesus our Mercy, and the Holy Spirit, the giver of Life, the comforter!
A few minutes later, the staff from Riley entered the room explaining the procedures of a hospital transfer and the procedures of the NICU. The staff were great. The Neonatal Nurse Practitioner sat down near my bed at a table against the wall. She looked at her papers and proceeded to tell me she wasn't sure why they had been called for the transfer as they did not see a TransEsophagel Fistula and her tube easily went into her trachea when they arrived to assist with breathing. Although bewildered by the blood gases, she said it appeared nothing was there and they were going to call Riley to cancel the surgeon who was prepared to receive Mary-Grace for repair of this condition that was suddenly without sign of being present.
I became connected with Ronnie prior to November 2007. I didn't know his name then. I knew him as "Keely's Dad" and I would not be able to remember his name until November, 2010.
I had worked with Keely through the same company but at different locations. We were about an hour away from each other when at work and about 45 minutes away when not at work. She was my mentor and my help when I needed it. I leaned on her at those times when I was lost or dumbfounded. She was always an excellent resource because of her knowledge of her job, her compassion for those under her care, and her gentle spirit and wonderful soul.
Let me explain my connection to Ronnie. One night, around 2 in the morning, I woke up feeling like I was ready to vomit and the name "Keely's Dad" popped into my head. I immediately began praying. I have always felt when I hear a name in my soul or see a face, God is asking me to pray for that person and so I do. These episodes with Keely's Dad continued and after a few weeks of this urgent calling to prayer, I called Keely. I informed her the call was personal and I just needed to ask her a question about her dad. She began to cry. I told her what had been happening and she then told me he had been diagnosed with Esophageal cancer. I told her, I believe what the Catholic Church teaches, there is private revelation and public revelation. I believed that Our Heavenly Father would send the Holy Spirit to tell me when it was appropriate to share these events.
As time went on, I would ask her questions every now and again to see how her Dad was doing and there was never a time when I was "feeling" his suffering that I was wrong. Every night before bed, in my soul I felt an urgency of prayer for him. Like I mentioned, I had experiences of praying for strangers but I don't recall any time where such a significant pull at my soul had taken place other than with Keely's Dad. I would send her emails of encouragement randomly to give her comfort and strength and she would share them with her dad. He said he'd like to meet me one day since he felt like I was a spiritual daughter of his. I felt so blessed to hear those words from Keely. What an honor! Keely always had praise and terms of endearment for her father and to hear those words from such an honorable man was quite humbling.
I remember calling Keely many months later in November 2007 on the 15th. I was driving home from work. It was dark. I called Keely because I had to tell her something and I had to know what was happening. I started telling her, "Keely, I'm sorry but I don't know what is going on. For the last week, I haven't had any prayer urgency for your dad and I horribly realized, I'd forgot to pray for him a couple of nights this past week". She responded with tears and a shaky voice, "we went to the physician last week and his cancer has stopped growing. He's responding to treatment!" Just then, I turned onto the highway as a semi-truck approached me in the south bound lane as I was now heading north. This semi truck had on his grill and brightly lit up orange cross. I exclaimed what I had just saw as we both cried and told each other we had goose bumps. The next day, we were together at a company conference but knowing I'd see her, I still couldn't wait, I had to call her that particular night. The next day was her birthday. (I may have the dates off by one day- so sorry if I do)
So time went on for a while and God woke my soul again. It was different this time though. It was difficult for me because I felt in my soul, God's purpose had been fulfilled. I couldn't bring myself to say something like that to such a wonderfully devoted daughter, a good friend, my spiritual sister. I waited a couple of days to a week or two when I called her again. "Keely", I said, "I don't know how to say this to you. But, I have to say it to you!" I went on explaining God has brought me to prayers again for "Keely's Dad" but it was different. There was not an urgency this time. Keely replied by telling me they had seen the physician in the last few weeks and his cancer was back and growing again. I reinforced to her, "with God, anything is possible, but I feel this is a time for me to be there comforting you and your dad through another phase". I spent the next many writings to her sending her love through the comfort of joining Christ on the Cross, suffering. Explaining the blessings of suffering and encouraging with comfort. She told me her dad enjoyed reading each email.
Eventually, the terribly sad day came on November 30th. I ached for her and her family from such a distance. I seemed in those moments to feel her sadness too. It took me awhile to connect Ronnie Crews' passing with the passing of my Grandma Strange, the exact same day many years earlier. She is a Saint in heaven if you ask me and I feel Grandma many times. I know she greeted him as he passed as she would have done it for me and for Keely. She was a lovely woman in life and in death.