My day began with a visit with my husband who had been in the hospital. Life had become a heavy burden for him and he wasn’t recovering well.
One of the specialists who was caring for my husband privately advised me, “People with your husband’s illness don’t often get well. I suggest you plan to take yourself and your children to safety and prepare to raise your children alone without your husband’s support.”
Her words were delivered with little emotion. I could feel the numbness begin to wash over me. I felt my chest constricting and I silently repeated, “breathe, breathe, breathe.” I left, walked to my car and drove to a military briefing.
“Pray for our men. God bless you and God bless the United States” were the words of the Commander. He had just finished updating us on our troops overseas. Our son Troy had joined the Marine Reserves to help finance his education. He was called to active duty as part of Desert Storm. He was somewhere in the desert awaiting marching orders.
After our briefing, I stayed behind. I questioned the Commander if the Red Cross could contact Troy to give him news of his father. His words left me quivering. “Mrs. Avery, Troy is one of our finest heavy duty equipment operators. He’s an exceptional Marine. I’m certain he will be driving one of the first tanks as the ground forces advance toward Iraq. I have further information that our two companies will be very near the front leading the troops forward through the sand berms, oil fires, mine fields and barriers. It’s very important that Troy have nothing on his mind but the duty he is called to. He must stay focused. To know of his father’s condition might cloud that focus. I think it best that we wait until after the invasion.”
Again I left, walked to my car trying to capture what I had heard. They felt heavy. My chest heaved and I had to remind myself to breathe.
Once in the car, I turned on the radio. My body shuttered as I heard the words “News Bulletin!”
“Earlier today President George H. W. Bush gave the order for Operation Desert Storm Ground Offensive to begin.”
“NO! Not now, not Troy!” Somewhere imbedded in my mother’s heart was the unsettling feeling that Troy would not survive his service to war. Fear gripped me that I might not see Troy alive again this side of Heaven. Now Troy was driving a tank, headed for battle. My husband was seriously ill in the hospital and not likely to get well.
Earlier news had suggested that the United States forces would likely suffer heavy casualties in the early hours of the ground invasion. I tried to stop my mind from envisioning what Troy might be facing.
My chest began to heave again as I realized how alone I felt. I needed words from God or a sign. I went out to a secluded place in our back yard to invite God into my trauma. God and I have some unorthodox ways of communicating. When I am desperate for His words, and I was, I ask for a sign. His sign to me is often one of His creations with wings. I asked God for a hummingbird to assure me He had plans to care for me and walk with me through this crisis.
As I began to sink deeper into the abyss of hopelessness I heard and felt something. I lifted my eyes to see a ruby-throated hummingbird literally inches from my nose. It remained steadfast with its tiny wings whirring, looking directly into my eyes. Of course it said nothing. But I heard.
I heard God’s promise that He was with me and I was not alone.
Together we would journey into whatever was to come for me, my husband, my son and our other four children.
Three days later I was sitting at my desk at work when our receptionist buzzed me. She asked if I wanted to speak to my son. I picked up the line and on the other end was Troy, safe, calling from the desert to assure me he was well.
My husband, the one who was likely not to recover, and I just celebrated 51 years of marriage. He is quite well and fully recovered. Just look at us. We are blessed. God’s goodness reigns over us.
Valerie Avery offers her stories as a traveling companion for others seeking renewed life after the trauma of abuse, through her writing and work as Director of Embraced by Hope. Some of her story is published in a newly released book entitled “Jesus Talked to me Today” and is available on Amazon. The bond of 50 years of marriage with her man has created a legacy as mother to 5 and “Grammie” to 20. She finds solitude in creating art and beauty using fibers, beads and nature. You can read more at valerieavery.blogspot.com
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