Our family went last night to visit a shrine. as we do every Christmas. The lights were magnificent! The live manger was awe inspiring as the choir sang nearby. Of course, over the years it has become more commercialized…Merry Go Round ride for $3. Ride in the trolley, $5. $4 dollar popcorn and $5 dollar cotton candy. $12 for a small book about the nativity, and $25 for the accompanying small stuffed sheep. $9.95 for a children’s chicken nugget meal. Of course, with more and more lights, the expenses increase, and they have to fund it somehow. But I digress… The money making aspects of the shrine in no way minimizes the true spirituality and healing nature of the location, which is worth all of the money in the world.
We adopted Dinora from Guatemala at the age of 6 weeks, and I was so thrilled to have a daughter!!! She came with a variety of diseases common in s 3rd World Country, scabies, intestinal parasites and malnutrition. But we loved her and fed her and she blossomed into an adorable baby with big black eyes and shiny black hair.
At the age of six months, it became apparent that Dinora was deaf. She had not yet started to babble like other babies her age, but she also did not turn to her name, or looked at the dog when she barked, or seem to notice the footsteps of me coming into her bedroom. She would be laying there awake when I walked in, (and, believe me, I am not light on my fight.) When she finally would see me, she would startle. She had not heard me. The day I knew it for sure was a day she was sitting next to me on the floor while I was doing the dishes. I accidentally dropped a huge lobster pot I was cleaning and it made a horrendous clang on the floor. Dinora happily sat there playing, her back to the pan. She did not startle. She did not cry. She did not hear it.
We then made the rounds of the doctors. She flunked regular hearing tests, and had a brain stem evoked response test. Her brain did not respond up to 90 decibels. The doctor informed me that she was severely hearing impaired and that we would try hearing aids to maximize her hearing, although they would not be strong enough for her to hear normally. They took the impressions for her ear molds.
That evening, our family went for a pre-Christmas visit to a shrine beautifully decorated with Christmas lights. I was feeling sorry for myself. I had a two year old son who was legally blind, and now I had an infant daughter who was deaf.
There was a statue of Our Lady of Lourdes surrounded by prayer water and many large candles. There was also a large display of crutches and wheelchairs of people who had been healed by her. I helped my son, Francis, who was 2 1/2 years old, light a candle. Because it was almost Christmas, and the only candles he had seen were on a birthday cake, he merrily sang “Happy Birthday Dear Jesus”. I remember saying a non-de-script prayer, still upset that Dinora was deaf. I still thanked God, but was not quite as enthusiastic as usual.
The next morning, the dog barked and Dinora woke up! I thought it was a coincidence until I started to walk into her room and she turned to smile at me. She had heard my footsteps! I started talking to her and she started babbling back. Only a day earlier she had been fitted with ear molds for hearing aids! I excitedly called the doctor, who agreed to see her that day. Her hearing was tested and it was normal! Neither I nor the doctor could believe it. He said in his 29 years as an ear doctor he had never seen anything like it. He told me that it had to be an “Christmas miracle from Above”. The visit the night before to the shrine came to mind. A miracle HAD occurred, and I was embarrassed because I had not thanked God more enthusiastically the night before. He had granted me a miracle even though I did not ask for one.
Dinora is now 28 years old and has had perfect hearing ever since that day! And I have lived life with a peaceful,generous heart because I know, without any doubt, that God is with me.
To read more about our life as a family, please read my book. Here is a link:
The Apple Tree: Raising 5 Kids With Disabilities and Remaining Sane