Your Aunt Viv is one of the most decent people I’ve ever met. She’s kind. She’s giving. She loves unconditionally and profoundly. She has a strong faith in God. And she believes in miracles.
The dictionary defines a miracle as a surprising and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is therefore considered to be the work of a divine agency.
About three or four years ago your Aunt Viv got very sick. Something was wrong with her lungs and no one could figure out what the problem was. As her illness wore on and after discarding several of the more benign possibilities, the doctors thought Viv must have some form of lung cancer. We waited with our hearts in our throats for the test results, fearing the worst. Only your Aunt Viv held steadfastly to the notion that God was with her and that this was not her time to go.
While we were waiting for the test results your grandpa, who is a very seasoned doctor, went to see Aunt Viv in the hospital. After his visit your grandpa called me. “I’ll be very surprised if she has cancer” he said. When I asked him why, he said she was not showing the physical indications of someone with lung cancer. I couldn’t tell you how he described it medically but in lay person terms she was simply doing better, which your grandpa said is not how the body behaves as lung cancer progresses.
Sure enough, a battery of tests showed no sign of lung cancer, or of any other cancer for that matter. Viv’s health continued to improve, and other than some scar tissue in her lungs the doctors declared that she was cured. They said her illness had been “idiopathic”, which is medical jargon for “we don’t know what the hell caused it or why it stopped”.
Your Aunt Viv had a different explanation. God had performed a miracle.
I’m not the most devout person, nor the most pious. But in the face of what we had just witnessed I had to acknowledge that a miracle had indeed occurred. We celebrated life, God, and our good fortune, and left it at that.
Then about a year later Viv started getting pneumonia with alarming frequency. Back to the doctors she went. More tests, more theories, more diagnoses. And slowly a consensus began to build amongst the specialists that your Aunt Viv had something called interstitial lung disease, a chronic disease that manifests with increasing scarring of the lungs. At some point it becomes irreversible and terminal.
As Viv’s health continued to deteriorate, I privately came to reframe the miracle as simply a misdiagnosis. To this day I haven’t been able to shake the notion that a better team of pulmonary specialists might have figured things out earlier and been able to help her while the disease was still in its infancy. Who knows. But does that mean God isn’t at Viv’s side, or that her life hasn’t been blessed with miracles? Not at all.
Your Aunt Viv got married a bit later in life, and she was blessed with the marriage most people only dream of. Your uncle Ron is her best friend and soul mate. The two have been by each other’s side through thick and thin, and they remain solidly, unshakably, dare I say divinely, in love. Viv always wanted a big family, and their beautiful blended one is chock full of children and grandchildren who they love and who love them.
Viv is a healer. She’s also a natural leader, a writer, and a public speaker. She had a wonderful career as an Obstetrical nurse. She has led the nursing corps of various ObGyn units. She has given seminars on leadership and on nursing all over the country. I can tell you, my sweet daughter, that those things fulfilled her and made her so, so happy. I never saw Viv more giddy with joy than when she was staying in some little motel in the middle of nowhere, teaching a seminar or making a speech. Maybe I’m crazy, but being able to do the things one loves to do while making a difference in the world, well, isn’t that a miracle?
Although our family was Jewish, in her twenties your Aunt Viv converted to Christianity. I never asked her what brought her to that epiphany, but her newfound faith fortified her and made her happy, and she found comfort in God’s hands.
So was her idiopathic illness and temporary cure of a few years ago a miracle? I have no idea. A miracle may not be explicable by natural or scientific laws, but unfortunately interstitial lung disease is. And barring some sort of medical miracle now, your Aunt Viv will shortly transition from this earthly existence to whatever may be next.
The real miracle though, the sustaining miracle, the miracle I will remember all the days of my life, is the goodness and the light and the love that is your Aunt Viv. No one who has known her will forget the bigness of her heart, or her ability to face adversity with the utmost grace, or the legacy that is evident when one simply looks around at her family.
Whoever God is, wherever God roams, whatever His plan, may He look after your Aunt Viv for all eternity in the way that she so richly deserves.
All my everlasting love,