So now it is a year since the morning I prayed all 15 decades of the Rosary on the one-hour commute to my husband's hospital the day after his make-or-break operation.
It was the 100th anniversary of the last apparition of Fatima, and the trad (and mad) continent of the Catholic blogosphere had been rife with rumours that Something Bad would happen. Since my future now hinged on how brain-damaged B.A. was going to be, it did not seem at all megalomanic to ask Our Lady that the day's Great Event be instead that B.A. have a complete recovery.
I did not know if B.A. would recognise me ever again, so it was a great relief when I arrived beside his bed in Intensive Care and it was clear that he did. He couldn't speak, however, as he had a ghastly breathing apparatus down his throat, and eventually his nurse, and then several nurses and doctors had much ado preventing him from tearing at it.
While the battle raged, I was sent out of Intensive Care, only to be called in again because after the machine was removed B.A. started screaming and carrying on, and they thought I could calm him down.
Like many delirious people, he thought he was dying, but B.A. also wanted Mass said for him while he did, so as soon as he laid eyes on me he yelled, "Darling, darling, call Father E, I'm dying ---and her Immaculate Heart will triumph!"
B.A.'s brain surgeon was tremendously pleased that B.A. could breathe on his own and was in such feisty spirits although you can bet that soon after I left (about 8 hours later) B.A. was pumped full of sedatives. He was not so feisty when I saw him the next morning, let me tell you.
For three days he repeated that Our Lady's Immaculate Heart would triumph. The first day he yelled this over and over. The next day, his yells weren't so loud and the repetitions were less frequent. The third day, he just mentioned this inevitable triumph from time to time in a conversational tone of voice.
B.A. had no permanent brain damage from the operation, and when we saw the surgeon a few months later, he stared at B.A.'s face to see if any of the muscles were sagging, and they weren't.
"It's pretty miraculous," said the surgeon, and I proceeded to write two newspaper articles on the topic.
It was an awful blow to both of us when we discovered, a few months after that, that B.A.'s brain tumour, which can't be entirely removed, was slowly growing back. Obviously the worst part was that B.A.'s ordeal was not over, and he'd have to have radiotherapy. However, it was also disappointing that our miracle hadn't signalled the end of it all. Perhaps our miracle wasn't a miracle after all?
But I think that it was still a miracle, in the way that the Raising of Lazarus was still a miracle, even though Lazarus died in the end. B.A. did not have a complete recovery from the tumour , but he did have a complete recovery from the very scary operation that could have left him blind, unable to breathe, immobile or dead. (You name it.) He also helped to promote devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary when he was completely off his head.
Some people, even devout elderly ladies, spout obscenities when they are delirious. Not my B.A. As a temporarily brain-damaged person, he was really rather sweet. He may even have been heroic because even while he thought he was being murdered, he was proclaiming the message of Fatima in a dourly post-Christian city at the top of his lungs.
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