The Path to Heaven Through Suffering

“That same evening, when the sun appeared to be sinking into the vast stretch of the waters beyond a golden path of light, I went with you to sit upon a lonely rock. I gazed for ages on this path of light, and you said it was an image of the path to Heaven when grace lights up the way.”

St. Therese, The Story of a Soul

Sunset reflected on the sand of the beach
Photo by Harli Marten on Unsplash

His energy was low. It was strange how calm he was during the outing. He spit up once in the car. His eyes looked a little sunken. During lunch we put the clues together. I called the pediatrician knowing the doctor could ease the process of getting labs. I would have to drop the other children off at my parents. They have an opening in 25 minutes. It takes 15 minutes to get there. My husband rushed to shoe and load up the kids while I prepared the diaper bag. I did not think of packing. I did not think of anything except getting there.

99.2, then taking his temperature in a more accurate method…102.

Damn it.

It is rather like a flood. This means San Francisco. This means leaving home. This means being torn apart. This means returning to the desert where we seem to live half the time. This means suffering. This means making arrangements.

Off to the ER.

And then the news that we will be flying to San Francisco. This means no suitcase. This means it gets complicated. Could I go without him in the car?

Having a car sit unused in a garage for two weeks. Complicating the lives of those caring for our children with the back and forth of not having the van. I have the van. The good doctor from UCSF says they will try to make a way for me to have a break. I do not know what he means. Another doctor…another conversation, she is all heart and optimism and she helps keep me going in ways well beyond the call of her profession. They mean for me to be able to go home for a few days. But Baby is very attached to me. He is eight months. I left my eight-month old son to return to work full time three years ago. It hurt him. I can’t do that. They are wonderful here. They love him here. But I cannot take him from the stability he knows of the person he is attached to most.

In the helicopter,

I hear, “PICU” from the flight nurse in the back with Peter. We are in a helicopter. PICU. Is it more serious than I realize. It is bright and hot on my face as we fly west into the evening. The air conditioning is cold on my leg. When I start to feel a moment of panic, I take a deep breath and repeat in my mind “it’s an adventure!” This is my second helicopter ride.

It is beautiful and exciting. We are up over the clouds. Beneath us is a sea of clouds. I take a photograph for my son. I think of St. Therese. If she loved the elevator what would she say of this! I think of the golden path of light above the clouds.

We are in the steady movement of the helicopter and it feels we dive into the clouds. The power of the moment, the magnitude…it is awesome. And we go lower. The clouds turn dark. I think of the dark night…of feeling a separation from the things we love…of feeling torn from home. We are in the dark clouds. We come beneath them. The bay is below us. The sun sets. It forms a golden path of light along the water.

This is the path to Heaven. This way of suffering…of love…of sacrifice. I offer my sacrifice for Joseph and his family.

A nurse in the last ER asked me, “how do you do it?” You just do. You just keep moving forward. Because this is the path to Heaven. To bouy us up, the Lord finds a way to light up the path, to give us hope, and keep us moving on our journey.

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