It was December 18, 1997 and I was writing out my Christmas cards. This
in itself was perfectly normal considering the season…but I was writing
them in the surgical waiting room at Columbia Presbyterian Medical
Center in Manhattan.
My husband, Michael, was 30 and he had been sick since August. I was
very fearful that he would die and that our boys, Sean and Kevin, would
grow up without a father. It was bad enough that they lost an aunt the
Christmas before. That they could lose their father as well was
unthinkable. I had been praying constantly. I said every Novena to
every Saint I could think of. “Please God…” was constantly
in my mind and on my tongue.
Michael had been diagnosed with a rare neurological disorder and his
doctors recommended an operation on his cranial nerves led by a
neurosurgeon and an ENT specializing in skull based surgery. The
operation would take 6-8 hours and so I brought a pile of paperwork and
some magazines, along with my Christmas cards. I knew I would be
waiting for a while and I certainly never had time to handle these
things at home with a sick husband and two boys under the age of five.
The Christmas cards were particularly important to me. I hadn’t sent
them out the year before due to the tragic death of my sister-in-law,
and I wanted everyone I knew to pray for Michael. Besides, writing the
cards kept me somehow connected to the joy of Christmas.
My father-in-law and brother-in-law were waiting with me but they didn’t
bring anything to do, and so they were in and out of the hospital,
walking around, trying to waste time. I was perfectly calm about the
whole thing and was busy with this work for a long time. But time
passes slowly in a hospital…every minute can feel like an hour.
After about 7 ½ hours, I had run out of things to do, but I was still
calm. Then 8 hours passed. The operation was supposed to have been
over by now and yet there was no word from the doctor. At 8 ½ hours,
I started to panic. What was going on? Did something go wrong? Was
everything OK? For the first time since Michael got sick, I prayed for
myself. “God, I’ve been praying for Michael all this time, but
now I’m the one who needs help. The doctor said this operation would take 6-8
hours and it’s over 8. I’m worried. Please give me the strength to get
Seconds after finishing my prayer, a Priest walked into the waiting
room, looked around and walked straight over to me. I must have been
staring at him with my mouth open because that was the most perfect and
fastest response to a prayer I had ever seen! He shook my hand, asked
about me and why I was there, and he said he would pray for Michael.
Then he sat down and talked to me about the neighborhoods in NYC and how
they had changed over the years and with this small talk, he succeeded
in keeping my mind off the operation. I never asked him his name
because it wasn’t important to me. I wasn’t even sure he was real!
All I knew is that he was the answer to a prayer.
About a half-hour or so, the Priest left. He never spoke with anyone
else in the waiting room other than my family and me. Immediately after
he walked out, the doctor walked in and told me that the operation was
successful, they were finishing up, and that Michael was doing well.
It’s been a long road since that first operation in 1997. Michael still
has some health problems but he doesn’t let them interfere with his
life. He works as the Director of Human Resources for the Diocese of
Rockville Centre under Bishop Murphy and he is friendly with many, many
Priests who keep him in their prayers. This is very comforting to me.
I still find the power of prayer amazing and when I think back to that
troubling time, I truly believe that my Priest friend showing up on cue
was much more than just a coincidence…he was Heaven sent. It wasn’t
a miraculous healing like I had originally hoped, but nevertheless, God
gave me exactly what He knew I needed. And with that, it is a little
easier for me to trust in His plan.
submitted by Doreen K. Monahan