Just because we can explain the miracles in our lives doesn’t make them any less significant.
This past week I celebrated another birthday and was met with a pleasant but unexpected surprise. I’m rather proud of the fact that my oldest daughter has chosen to serve a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She left home in January and has so far served in 3 different areas in different parts of North and South Carolina. The missionary program for our church does a lot of good for those it serves and those who provide the service. For young men and women it gives them structure at a time in their life when structure can be helpful and encourages them to focus on others instead of themselves.
As part of that structure Eliza can only call home on Mondays—and we’re grateful when she does. This week though I was happy to learn that she was allowed to call home when one of us left in the house has a birthday. I didn’t know that before she called.
So on my birthday I got a great cake, great food, great company, lots of well-wishes from coworkers and family members and a video call from my daughter. I know she listens to the podcast and I knew I didn’t have an episode for last week. So, I asked her what I should share. She suggested we talk about miracles.
My wife is the oldest surviving sibling in her family, but she’s not the oldest. She had an older brother named Michael who never made it home from the hospital. He died from under developed lungs and [Strep B]. The year was 1976 and while the infant mortality rate had dropped significantly since 1950 (40/1000 live births) to 13/1000 live births but it wasn’t 0 and the [statistic] hit home.
This is the way the father shared the story:
Michael was 6 weeks early and after a long hard delivery, they put him an incubator as precaution. The next morning I got a call from the hospital saying he was doing well and when the doctor came through, we could finally have our son. When I got to the hospital, I was told the doctor had rushed him to the Foothills Hospital NICU. He had gone from heathy and normal when the nurse saw him about an hour before to a severe temperature when the doctor checked him out. I headed to the Foothills. When I got there, they put in me an empty office to wait for the specialist. About an hour and a half later this young doctor came in and said: "Mr Hovan...I...We....AH....", shrugged and left. The nurse who came in with him looked at the closing door and said "I'm sorry. We did everything we could and nothing seemed to work. Your son has passed away. The doctor was trying to tell you this and ask if we could do an autopsy. I have never seen him like this." I agreed and said that if we could help someone else from having this happen to go ahead. I then went back to the Grace Hospital to tell Mom. The autopsy found that he had strep b and when Mom was tested she had it too. Michael was the first reported case in Alberta and one of the first in Canada. Because of him and the others that were tested after and around that time, they now test early in the pregnancy for strep b. This strain does not attack only the lungs but attacks the blood vessels accompanied by a very high fever. Michael died from massive hemorrhaging and most of his organs including his brain were as the doctor put it "baked". We knew that there was a reason but we couldn't understand why this happened to us. If it hadn't be for our faith and knowledge that we would see him again, I don't think we could have handled it and our marriage survive. A little over a year later GGH got a call from a pediatrician. There was a family in Lethbridge and their doctor that wanted to thank the couple who had allowed an autopsy to be done on their son. It was because of what was found, and the treatments that were developed, they were able to save their child and patient. It made the loss bearable and gave meaning to Michael's short life. He has always been there for my girls and their mother as a protecting big brother and son. There are many family stories of him helping and protecting them.
That day in the fall of 1976 wasn’t the conclusion to the pregnancy the parents had hoped for. In fact, they were heartbroken. Time does what it does best. It marches forward. I used to tell people that when they’re dealing with hard times to look down at their feet. Your feet are pointed forward, and that’s the direction you should be headed.
Michael’s parents’ feet were right ways pointed and they persevered. Eventually they’d celebrate a home with three healthy and talented girls.
I got to marry one of them and together we have four children. Two of our kids were diagnosed with Strep B. Science had evolved. The tests and treatment were readily available for two healthy human beings to live out full and rich lives.
We’re pretty confident that Michael’s body wasn’t donated as the groundbreaking ah-ha that solved the problem. It might have just been a statistic to prove the scientists on the cutting edge were on the right track. The way we tell stories we often attribute the winning score to the last one made in the game, but will forget all of the other points that made the winning score possible. We should be better than that.
Miracles do happen. Just because we can explain more about them doesn’t make them less an answer to prayers or less important as to how they impact our lives. The miracle that was wished for in 1976 happened within one generation and still blessed the lives of those who had once had their hearts filled with emptiness.
We live in an age of miracles. Every one of us has access to a wealth of information that wasn’t available for any price by any previous generation let alone for the small price we pay for our cell phones today. If you were talking to my missionary daughter she’d also tell you that you have access to more revelation today than any previous generation and that you can find out more at [comeuntochrist.org]
I hope you can take the time to recognize and enjoy the miracles in you life. If you’d like to tell me about them you can leave a comment on the video version or the show notes at parkingthought.com. As always we have a great back catalogue of content at ParkingThought. ParkingThought is your favorite .com if you visit there you can never go wrong.
I’m Jacob, and I’ll see you next time. Remember in a world where you can choose to be anything, why not choose to be grateful.