Oh, The Drama
I've got nothing against God. I think He has good intentions and in the end She is who we believe Them to be. I may not believe in the miracles you're thinking of. But I believe in coincidences so strong, patterns so perfect, Occam's Razor demands a designer.
I never ask my Dad what he thinks about God. He's a deacon at the church we grew up in, so I assume he's a loyal follower, but my brothers and I suspect he only joined for our Mom, and only stays for the promise of seeing her again one day.
Despite him teaching me how to build, fix cars, think for myself, stand up for myself, and how to love everyone, we don't agree on much as adults. But I love him for the dangerously generous, stubbornly brilliant, pun-slinging, drama-loving man that he is. And five years ago, I was, at thirty-five, still Daddy's girl.
He finds out I'm pregnant, and my Dad brings me a dozen long-stemmed red roses, walking straight into the after-school Drama Club where I'm teaching, and without a word, gives me a huge, sniffly, teary hug. I say, "Thanks Dad," touched, but I'm more concerned about revealing my pregnancy to all my teenage students while still in the first trimester.
I tell my students the roses are for Valentine's Day, and one girl said, "I wish my dad got me flowers." When I tell my Dad this, he goes out the next day and buys my students the biggest box of chocolates I've ever seen in my life. We had to turn it sideways to get it through the door. That's the kind of man, the kind of Dad he is.
At 37 weeks, he makes sure he's in town, ready to do anything and everything for his baby girl and her baby. He does his best, but he's seventy, and he's spent the last six years racing to his death, to be with Mom. Cracking jokes, making dinner, running this way and that, always helping someone. But by week 39, he's the one who needs help. "Dad, you've had that headache for three days now, how bad is it? I think you should see a doctor."
"Oh, it's not too bad, maybe an 11 out of 10. I saw the doctor, she gave me some ibuprofen."
"Is it working?"
"No, not really."
"Do you want to go to the hospital?"
The next day, he drives himself to his doctor, who calls and tells me to come right away and take him to the hospital. I squeeze my pumpkin sized belly behind the wheel and drive my Dad's van to the hospital. He holds his eye from the pain and gives me advice on the best side roads to take for the most scenic route.
After days of back and forth, of no answers, just more pain, they finally do a scan of his brain. A stroke. Possibly a bunch of strokes, with his cholesterol levels so high they don't know how he's standing, let alone walking. They can't believe he's talking coherently, he should be in incomprehensible pain. My due date comes and goes and he says, "Hey, maybe you could get a room next to mine."
I visit, and every day he's getting worse. I tell my brothers to get here as soon as they can. My husband brings him my Auntie Estelle's coffee, and he's so grateful he promises half of all he owns as a dowery along with my hand in marriage.
He's talking about the pretty nurses, and I ask if he's seeing someone. "No, whenever I think about another woman, I hear your Mom's voice scolding me. I've been thinking about her a lot." My older brother is supposed to be here by now, but through a series of unfortunate events, an anti-miracle if you will, he won't get to the hospital until the next morning. Dad's getting tired. It's harder for him to get his words out. He rallies briefly, "Tell Aedan I just want him to be happy. Tell Jackson to live in the moment." A moment. "You take good care of me." And he's ready to sleep.
I wake in the middle of the night, worried something might be wrong with the baby. I'm debating whether to call the midwife when the hospital calls me instead. "Your father had an aneurysm. He's unconscious. You should call in the family."
The family gathers around his bedside. We're here. He's not. His body lays there, lifeless but still alive. We talk to him, we sing, we touch him. My niece, Dad's firstborn's firstborn sits on his lap, too young to talk, she pokes him in the eye. He's supposed to make a funny face when she does that. He doesn't do anything. He's not wearing his glasses. He's not in there.
But I feel him. He's in the room with us. His love is so strong I can feel it, like a blanket across my shoulders. His soul feels joyous, light, it doesn't fit in this heavy, useless body, lying there broken. I know he'll never wake up again. I say my goodbyes. I love you, Dad.
This is the not the miracle you were hoping for.
My brothers, our extended family, his church family, surround his body with love every day when they move him to hospice. I'm not able to visit much, I'm almost a week overdue. And then the back pain starts and goes, and starts and goes. Contractions. It's my older brother's birthday. I distract myself by baking a cake, and we celebrate as much as we're able.
It's time to go to the birthing center, where I get benadryl, tylenol, and a pat on the back. I silently scream through a sleepless drugged night of agony, trying not to wake up my husband and mother-in-law, trying to let them sleep. When the sun comes up, I know I need help. We get to the hospital, and the pain is so great, so mind-consuming, I don't even feel the epidural go in. Blessedly, the pain eases, and I sleep. The next 24 hours, my niece's birthday, passes by in waves, waves of discomfort, pain increasing and easing, and then easing less and less. I speak with coherence. I don't scream. I don't cry. I think, I am my father's daughter.
It's been too long on the epidural, the catheter is on fire, it needs to come out, I spike a fever, I'm pushing the pain meds button every time I can. My first nurse is back on duty, and says, "We're doing this today". The baby spikes a fever, the nurse says, "We're going to have to take him to NICU when he's born."
And I start crying. Sobbing. Wailing. Immediately, there's a team of nurses, what's wrong? I can barely get it out, "You're... going... to.. take... my baby... away from me." It's the worse pain I could ever imagine, the thought of being separated from him. And they look at me like I'm crazy. So dramatic. It's about 9am and they induce me. I see my husband get a text, and I know something's happened with my Dad, but he can't tell me yet. I push when I'm told, bearing down, finally letting out some pent up rage, pain, fear.
His head is crowning, and I am being torn apart. All I can do is push. I push so hard I pop a rib. I push so hard my eyesight gets better for two days. My sweet child, eight days late, so big, he's already holding his head up on his own. His fingernails are so long they need to be trimmed. And he speaks, "Ef-wah, ef-wah, ef-wah." God, he is so precious, so perfect. I don't get enough time with him before they take him to be measured, weighed, 21 inches long, 9 and a half pounds.
He is a miracle, but there is more.
I learn it's not over. They reach in to detach the placenta that should have come out by now, they stitch up where he tore through me, and I can feel every stitch go in. They pull out the epidural that wasn't working anyway. I'm too exhausted to cry when my husband confirms what I knew. My Dad passed away, around the time they induced me.
Later, Jackson says, our Dad's soul must have passed my son's, one coming, one going. It's a beautiful image. Later, I'll joke, of course my Dad would take his exit in the most dramatic way possible. I sleep.
Life goes on. There's just so much pain, days of pain. Every minute I'm away from my child is torture, there's a string connecting my heart to his, and it threatens to pull my heart out. I can't walk without horrendous pain, but I must see my baby. He's a giant among the tiny premies, already wearing clothes for 3 month olds. I get kicked out of the hospital before he does, and I beg, I plead for them to let me stay a bit longer. They don't.
Slowly things get better, I learn how to be a mother while mourning my father. I grieve for the grandparents my son will never know. A month goes by. Almost a year.
Aedan is diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder. I hear my Dad say, "Tell Aedan, I just want him to be happy."
Jackson marries the mother of his child. She's pregnant with their second. I hear my Dad say, "Tell Jackson to live in the moment."
Inside, I'm resentful, I think about my Dad's last words to me, "You take good care of me." Was it a question? A request? A statement? I've administered his estate, planned his memorial, tried to take care of my brothers. Have I fulfilled his dying wish?
The next day, we release my parents' ashes together, into the ocean near Hawaii, where they were born. As their ti leaf wrapped remains sink to the bottom of the ocean, I feel the threads of their souls unspooling from my chest. The anchor's chain tears out pieces of my heart as it sinks. A snap. And they're gone.
My son is my heart and soul outside my body. My joy and my light. He starts to laugh. It reminds me of my Dad. He starts to walk, and reach, and listen. I realize he's brilliantly and stubbornly intelligent. He starts to talk. He makes jokes, puns. That easy smile, that gentle spirit. It's a joy to raise him, protect him. Care for him.
It takes me years to see it. My Dad's spirit didn't leave us. He wasn't hanging on to life to meet my son. They didn't pass each other like ships in the night. He met my son in the before and after life, and decided to go another round. An old soul in a new baby. Eyes that already know too much. A different person, but the same spirit.
It was a prediction.
"You take good care of me."
(Names changed to protect identities)
Some will believe, and applaud, a miracle, on receiving what was wanted, exactly. Especially, if without unintended consequence.
Others, feel it's a miracle to summarily recognize what is happened or had, with gratitude and sense of blessing; like the growth of weed as well as flower; or the very existence of triumph, and whatever its obstacle. The miracle of Life and Death, in all its shades. With or without God.
If I had to narrow down, my experience to one, my belief is that the miracle of miracles in Life, is our awareness of the miracle-- meaning Conscious Thought.
If you've ever felt understood, or sensed that you, yourself for a moment, could begin or finish another's unspoken thoughts, then you know the powerful connection of the mind and our potential awareness. It's happened to me more than once, verifiable face to face, so I've no doubt about the existence of a Universal Consciousness that we sometimes tap.
DO YOU BELIEVE IN MIRACLES? YES!
My dad sat on the couch at his friend's house in northern New Jersey watching that game, but I didn’t. I wouldn’t be born for another 20 years. He watched the moon landing on my grandmother’s lap as a baby, a little younger than I was when I watched the twin towers fall, sitting with her in northern Virginia. My dad was watching smoke come up out of the Pentagon that day - not on TV, not yet, on the roof of his office.
There are a lot of miracles in here already.
A winning team, space travel, the first responders who saved lives on 9/11.
But I wanna talk about my dad.
I know him at 54, almost 55. But I’ll tell a story from before we met. When my dad was 21 he got hit in the back of the head by the mirror of a truck, and was knocked-out cold on the side of the road by a driver who didn’t stop. His friend called 911 and he survived with a bunch of stitches that you can still feel on the crown of his head. They asked him his name in the back of the ambulance and he said “Wait - I know this one”, which should’ve told them enough about his cognitive state, but then they decided they should ask him “Who invented the cotton gin?”. The only reason I know that the answer is Eli Whitney is because my dad is still alive to tell the story of how he said to the EMT “How the hell would I know that?”.
He had another concussion earlier that year and another one later that year. He says ’90 wasn’t a memorable year for him, but it probably was for everyone else.
Jumbled up memories are an ailment we all share, regardless of head trauma. For example, we like to argue about what my dad said during a game of Monopoly in the 80s; Whether or not my mom has ever seen Independence Day, and if she did was it at the midnight showing with my dad or not. We don’t have answers to any of these questions, so they’re just table topics to bring up when dinner gets too boring or we’re having a stupider argument.
We have a few things, though, on videotapes. If you bring a VHS player I can play them for you, as proof that this is the truth.
The most important ones are my parents’ wedding in ‘96 and me as a baby in ’00-’01. We have my dad’s graduation party, also. He was 22, then, because it says ’91 on the piece of tape that acts as a label for the tape.
The video was taken in August at my great grandparents house in New Jersey. The tape traveled from there many times through different states, but the last time I watched it was in Virginia. My dad was there next to me. I was 22, so he was 53. I had seen it at least 3 times and my dad had lived it only once, so I was more familiar with what happens in it. In the video, he gives a speech, thanking his parents for supporting him through college. At the time, when I watched this, I was living at my grandparents house in my last year of college.
My dad and I both struggled with our heads - I have more mental issues than I care to name plus chronic migraines and my dad had those three concussions. When I hear him talk on tape, he sounds the same - mostly - except for the way that everyone sounded different in the 90s and how everyone sounds different on video anyways. The only thing that’s different is that he’s nervous. I can tell that he’s not as confident about what to say back then in the tape.
But he’s never nervous - he’s my dad.
I’ve only ever seen him cry once (and it was at a funeral). He doesn’t cry in any videos and he has a hard time smiling in pictures (all the men on that side of the family do), so I don’t always know how he feels or how he felt.
He told me has cancer a few weeks ago at the dinner table, but he said it’s only stage 2, he’ll be fine. He’ll just have to go get surgery or radiation. He wasn’t nervous, and he was more upset that the Cowboys lost. He said that was actually the worst news he’d heard all day.
Last year, sitting in the living room, watching the videotape, I sat next to my dad and cried. This was before the whole cancer thing, so I wasn’t constantly thinking about him dying.
It’s the fact that he lived a whole life before i did, one that I’ll only know through videos
How I have the comfort of knowing him as the same person he was when he met my mom, and probably, the same person on that couch in 1980, watching the USA beat the USSR in hockey.
But I’ll never know what it’s like to see him nervous.
The way I am all the time.
I used to think that he didn’t understand me. Maybe he does. Maybe I’ll be more like him, like I wish I was.
It’s hard to tell a lot about a person from a video, especially one that could only be up to around 20 mins long, otherwise the tape stops. So,Ii’ve only known my dad for the past 23 years, not all 54, and he probably won’t see all of my years either.
I do have one more video in mind that’s on my phone, so it’s my memory and not his or anyone else’s. It’s in Savannah, Georgia, I was 19 or so. I have a few minutes of recorded conversation between me and my dad. I’m talking to him about hotels, my complaints and my ideas, how I’m mad that I’m not 21 yet, which doesn’t matter anymore because I'm 23 now. But I’m still 19 then, and my dad must’ve been 50, barely. I think it was December, so he’d just had a birthday.
I don’t know exactly what the miracle is in this.
My dad? the fact he’s still alive? the videotapes? my grandparents who let me stay at their house? or maybe the fact that I exist at all…
It’s probably every single thing that’s ever happened to any of us. That’s the miracle. We’re irreplaceable.
We don’t have video tapes of every moment we live (that would be terrifying); we’ll forget things and when our children are older they won’t know us when we’re young.
I think that’s something that I've always struggled with - the unfair fact that my mom has known me all my life, but I haven’t known her all of hers. I want to go back in time and hug my parents.
Maybe the fact that I can feel so much love and so much grief for people I can hear snoring in the other room, people I could wake up and hug. But at the same time people who are entirely gone, people I’ve never met, people I never will.
Do you believe in miracles? Yes, I do.
I just don’t have time to count them.
Miracles A Reality?: Being on the Fence Leads to Splinters
I think the discussion of whether miracles exist requires one to accept that the miraculous doesn’t get a black and white definition. There are scientific miracles which can be explained, supernatural miracles that may be unexplainable, and even miracles that are defined as such by the individual. For example, to the Aztecs, Cortes’ steel swords and firearms were miraculous, but that is only because they didn’t know the real, very unsupernatural nature of the powerful weapons they held in awe. Sadly, this kind of ignorance is often the mother of miracles. Face it. When your traditional weaponry consists of obsidian knives, obsidian-tipped spears and arrows the swords and muskets Cortes brought with them would seem to be creations beyond the capability of mortal man. In the case of the Aztecs, just a little bit of knowledge may have taken the shine off the supposed miracles Cortez carried and given them the chance to save their civilization. Now, if one wants to consider what can only be described as a true supernatural event with no scientific or logical explanation, then I will agree with Hamlet and say, “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio (or in this case Prosian), than are dreamt of in your (or anyone’s philosophy). So, when it comes to miracles, I sit on the fence and frankly, pulling splinters out of my a—is bad enough. Did someone really have to add fing razor wire too?
So, from a scientific perspective, miracles are the result of previously unknown, newly discovered, or misunderstood natural phenomena. If a miracle is placed under the harsh lens of the scientific method, it’s often dissected until the very natural, less than miraculous explanation is discovered. Some scientifically debunked miracles include: The Aurora Borealis, the phases of the moon, a birds ability to fly, and the Wonder Bra. These may all seem to be authentic god-crafted miracles to the ignorant eye, but scientific laws and reason serve to both lift and separate the truth from the miraculous.
For the truly unexplainable, many argue that they just can’t be explained NOW. The ability to explain these, “Miracles” away by science simply hasn’t been developed yet. Once science catches up with the supposedly unexplainable, it will sift away the fanciful and leave behind only the nuggets of truth and reality. For me, I agree with my geology professor (a very open atheist) who explained that science is meant to define the quantifiable, observable workings of the natural universe. Because of this, science will struggle to determine if a real, honest to some deity miracle has happened. In short, you can’t explain away the supernatural with science because science isn’t designed to explain what lies beyond the laws of nature and the universe. So, I sit firmly on the fence between, “Yes miracles happen” and “Nope. It’s all explainable.” Frankly, with all this fence sitting, my biscuits are burning. I’ll have to stop by Costco and pick up the value size Preparation-H.
Now, there is something to be said about things one could consider miraculous, but probably have a very unsupernatural explanation. For example, I feel that the big blue ball we call home supports life is miraculous. An even bigger miracle to me is that the life on this planet relies on perfectly conceived, reciprocal relationships with completely different other forms of life. Consider how we breathe the oxygen produced by plants and then exhale carbon dioxide which the plants need. The process is scientifically understood, but it still feels magical. Another example? How about the relationship between trailer parks and inbreeding? Trailer parks couldn’t exist if not for inbreeding. The slightly irregular, potentially three-eyed residents that result from inbreeding will need someplace to live. Where better than the trailer park that inspired mom and dad (two first cousins both of whom had parents that are also first cousins) to bump uglies? It’s beautiful if you think about it. I’ve always felt that such perfect, mutual relationships cannot be random, there has to be some force orchestrating it all.
There you have it. Miracles and the supernatural exist or they don’t, and science will eventually debunk the f-out of them. Like trailer parks and the mutually beneficial relationship they have with those who inbreed or who are inbred, a miracle may exist only from a certain very unscientific and unsupernatural viewpoint. Either way, I think I need the fire department to break out the jaws of life to remove the fence post propelled knickers from my now thoroughly weggied bum.
Napkin Tic Tac Toe is Universal
Guess I was looking for a Miracle.
I calls out, whoah
Lemme save you!
The Miracle sparkled a way
to the bottom.
God, you can't even --!
Wait er, waiter--!
thanks, and I'm back,
to Square zero.
God, The Universe, and You Pt.2: Miracles @TheWolfeDen
the future’s light
Standing silent without fear
I felt a presence drawing near
Revealing terrors yet to come
As my heart beat like a drum
I saw my life die in a flash
I saw my family turn to ash
I saw my heart break sevenfold
I saw my tears fall through the cold
And though I thought it couldn't be
An end was there, I knew I'd see,
The shadows left me lost in fear,
Then rang a promise, loud and clear.
When you walk through seizing pain
And run alone through fire and rain
I will guard you, I'll be there,
I won't leave you, I'll draw near.
I have chosen you, my son,
And no shadows will change my plan.
I will guide you through the dark
And no one will tear us apart.
Then I woke up at the cross,
A reminder of the deepest cost
The penalty reserved for me,
Borne by one who seemed so weak.
Glorious in the fading light
A light of love flashed in his eyes
And even as alone he died,
I saw love in his fogging eyes.
That someone would bear my pain freely,
It was beyond my heart to see.
But even through my fiercest doubts,
I know he'll come when I call out.
Miracles are Dyson Spheres
Surrounding the possible, but severe enough
Wishes made of rainbows and cream puff
And reasonable doubts disappear
Faith is a thing convenient
So we can make passable
The things that aren't possible
And pray to unlikely ingredients
You can change water into wine
Just add dimethyl dicarbonate
And calcium carbonate
And sugar and yeast in Canaan time
Diseases are defeatable
So, you can cure leprosy
With multidrug therapy
Just one of many treatable
Drogo and Gerard Majella and Pio
Bilocated to make their cases
For beatification on a sainthood basis
But now recants, our Galileo
We couldn't abide eccentricism
And were told to consider levitation
Instead of relating effect and causation
And never refute heliocentrism
Malodorous was ol' Lazarus
Both alive and when, dead, he fell
So by the smell, you couldn't tell
Whether he lived or was cadaverous
You don't need miracle-schmiracles
No, to be close to your God
You just need to plod
In kindness and embrace the empirical
What is a miracle?
One grand moment?
Getting something you wanted, exactly as you wanted?
Is it divine timing?
I believe it to be a series of things.
Good outcomes, that are likely to have been a tragedy otherwise.
My ninety-two year old grandmother-
sold as a slave, who fell into a well at seven.
The death of both parents by seventeen, left to raise four children.
At forty-five, bereaved again, with the loss of the love of her life.
At eighty-six, a gross tumour on her throat; non-cancerous.
At ninety-one, slipping and just glancing the support beams of the wall.
That hole in the wall is still there from her skull, mercifully intact on both counts.
At ninety-two, devastated that her daughter has the same cancer as her mother had.
Yet, she is still here. Physically weakening as time wears on, but her mind as sharp as ever.
It will be her ninety-third December 22nd. Just a year behind her champagne birthday.
Perhaps we'll have red wine for this one.
And, she is the most devote follower of Christ ive ever met. She owes it all to him.
I owe it to something. Something kind enough to leave me my grandmother, when none of us are ready to live without.
It was a place. An airport built into a booth. He could hear them landing, shoes clasping, young and old in flip flops for some reason.
It was a back pain and a hospital.
It was a point with no story looking for a story with no point. Why, because
It was a smoking booth, and engines roared. Then, quiet. Soared.