I’ve experienced many times how intimately God is involved in our lives. While I was co-authoring the Amazing Grace book series, it was incredible how often casual conversations with strangers led to amazing stories for the book. That experience plus the stories I heard, gave clear evidence just how present God is to each one of us.
One such story came while I was standing in line to have a book signed at a Catholic Conference. When the lady next to me, Agnes L’Heureux, from International Falls, Minnesota, was done sharing her story, a confused look came over her and she said: “I don’t know why I just told you all that.”
“I know,” I said. “I’m working on a collection of stories and I would love to include yours in the book. Can I call you next week to fill in the details?”
It was 1957 and Agnes was 27 and pregnant with her sixth child. The oldest was only 7 years old. I n spite of the busyness, Agnes and her husband John were thrilled to be expecting another precious gift from God. But one morning, something was terribly wrong. At around 12 weeks, she began bleeding. A dull pain formed in her abdomen so she went to the doctor. “I think you are going to miscarry,” he told her gently. Her throat swelled as she tried to swallow back the tears.
“I already loved this baby,” Agnes explained. She hoped the doctor was wrong. “I’ll go home and rest,” she thought. “Maybe things will get better.”
By morning, the pain was unbearable. “I knew I was losing the baby,” she said. “Please God, if there is any way, save my baby,” she prayed. She was willing to accept God’s will, but she kept hoping and praying her baby would survive.” Doctors made house calls back in those days. When he arrived, he realized Agnes had an ectopic pregnancy. The baby had been growing in the fallopian tube, which had ruptured. An ambulance came and sped her to the hospital.
Blinking her eyes open in the recovery room, Agnes focused on the tubes coming out of her arm connected to a pint of blood. The realization of what had happened stabbed her heart. Her baby was gone. A profound sense of emptiness enveloped her.
“My baby...” she sobbed.
The nurse at her side explained that Agnes had lost a lot of blood but was going to be fine. In those days, women were discouraged from mourning a miscarried or stillborn baby. Every time Agnes began to cry, someone would quickly quiet her. The message was: You have five children at home. This was only a twelve-week baby. There is no reason for tears.
After ten days in the hospital, Agnes returned home to her busy life and pushed her grief aside. Five years later she had one more baby. For thirty years, the grief over the bby she lost remained buried. But then, while preparing to give a talk for a Cursillo weekend, the memory came out of dormancy. As Agnes began writing her background information, and wrote that she had six children, a voice from within corrected her: “No, you have 7 children.”
Agnes put down her pen, stunned as the words echoed in her brain: “You have 7 children.” For thirty years she had ignored the existence of one of her children. Like a dam bursting forth, tears flooded down her face as she thought of her precious baby with God. For several days, the grief she had stuffed for thirty years came out.
During this time, Agnes went for coffee at a newly opened senior social center for people fifty-five and older. She was fifty-seven. A lady who she recognized as working at the hospital years earlier, sat down at her table.
She studied Agnes carefully then her face lit up with recognition. “Oh! I know who you are,” she said. “You had the ectopic pregnancy.” Agnes was so surprised to be remembered after all those years and especially at a time when she was finally experiencing what the loss of her baby meant to her.
“I have always wanted to tell you,” the nurse said, “I baptized your baby.”
Agnes was speechless and cried tears of joy. Only God could have arranged such a meeting at just the right moment in her life. “Peace and calm filled me,” she said. “Finally, I was ready to go home and finish my speech. But first, I had one more thing to do. I named my little boy: David Benjamin, my little angel whom I look forward to meeting one day in heaven.”