Looking back to the last week in July, I’m still in awe of God’s impeccable timing.
Late afternoon that week, Steven and I attended a meeting related to a topic dear to my heart, one that had been scheduled ten days prior but had been unexpected just the same.
Usually we go into Corpus only for doctor’s appointments, so this was quite a departure from the norm. And, yes. I’d expected Steven to back out, but— surprise, surprise— he went along without complaint.
While at the meeting, Steven’s Blackberry went off twice; but Steven didn’t check it until we were halfway down Shoreline Drive toward Ennis Joslin on our way home.
“What happened to my messages?” Steven asked. “I didn’t open them. I didn’t even touch the buttons on the phone during the meeting, so why have they disappeared?”
He was sooo upset that he drove up onto a vacant lot and turned off the vehicle to give the Blackberry his full attention. He tried and tried to no avail to access Pat’s two messages, until he just gave up and called her instead.
That’s when we learned that Carlos, Pat’s husband, had been admitted to the hospital with a brain tumor and would be undergoing surgery Wednesday night.
Steven assured Pat that he’d take care of things at work and told her not to worry about anything. He also asked to be kept informed, adding that we’d keep her family in our prayers.
“So maybe this is the real reason why we’re in Corpus at this time and place?” I asked rhetorically.
We’d just driven past Christus Spohn Hospital a few blocks before the phone call, so Steven made a u-turn and drove back into town.
We totally surprised Pat and her family by showing up unexpectedly. No doubt, she must’ve thought that Steven had called from home; but, no. God had taken care of things by placing us in the vicinity, so we could do the right thing: visit and show our love and support when we all needed it most.
I thought about the folks who, like us, had purposely found their way to the chapel to pray for loved ones; so I added my prayers to theirs and theirs to mine.
I also wondered what the chaplain was like. I imagined that only a specially gifted individual would heed God’s call to minister to patients and loved ones in such great need of consolation and spiritual guidance, but I wanted to find out for myself. Without mentioning this to Steven, I resolved to attend eleven-thirty Mass at the chapel one day that week, even though I knew I probably wouldn’t make it on time.
In the morning, I drove to my doctor’s appointment first and had plenty of time to read the latest issue of the Word among us (August, 2010) in the waiting room.
How timely, I thought, to read about the power of prayer and love on healing when Pat’s family is going through such a harrowing experience.
Then I took the back roads to Christus Spohn and visited with Pat, Carlos, and their family, as they waited for Carlos to be prepped for surgery at seven-fifteen that evening.
I visited with Pat and her daughters, including an adopted daughter whose family had driven down from Lake Jackson for the day.
Carlos had been in surgery until two A.M., so a group of forty had spent the night with Pat and the girls in the ICU waiting room.
Not until the doctor had shared his findings with the family, and Pat had been assured that Carlos was safe and sound in his room, had she and the others gone home to rest for a few hours. Of course, they didn’t stay gone for long and found, on returning, that Carlos was in great spirits.
We took turns visiting Carlos in spurts during the first one-hour visitation that afternoon. As silly as ever, Carlos showed off the fresh wounds on his shaved head; but he did have excruciating head pain that even the strongest meds coudn’t suppress.
With Pat on my left and his daughters across the bed from us, I held Carlos’s hand. Gently stroking his face and his arm, I silently prayed over him. I also shared what I’d read in the Word among us just the day before: Praying for healing requires confidence, knowing what to pray for, touching the person in need of healing, praying calmly and peacefully, and giving thanks and praise (pp. 16-19).
Then I told them the story I’d heard from my cousin, Rosie, an anesthesiologist in Corpus, many years ago.
One day, during her internship at John Sealy Hospital in Galveston, the lead surgeon on their team announced that he’d be on sabbatical for a month in his native country in South America. On hearing this, his replacement panicked. “But all your patients recover! How am I going to top that? You have to teach me everything exactly as you do it, so all my patients do well, too!”
Just then, I performed the same ritual that the doctor had chanted after each operation. I stroked Carlos’s injured part, his forehead, and softly chanted, “Sana, sana, colita de rana. Si no sana hoy, sana mañana.”
“No one’s done that to me since I was a kid,” Carlos said with tender recollection. “I’d forgotten all about it,” he added, still in koala bear mode.
“I do that to Steven every morning before he leaves for work,” I said, thinking that Carlos was referring to my crossing his forehead three times. Then I realized he was referring to the children’s rhyme. “Yeah,” I chuckled. “My students, even my sixth graders, would roll their eyes when I’d do that to them after getting an owie on the playground, but they loved it!”
We all laughed at the thought, since the generations-old practice is used among Hispanics to soothe kids’ feelings— and maybe even make them giggle— when they’re hurt and need some TLC.
After that, the nurse walked in with a couple of really potent pain tablets for Carlos to take; and, within moments, they took effect.
Carlos was tired but calm and very much at peace. He stated what all of us were thinking, that everything would be all right, no matter what.
I knew that to be true ’cause God was present all around us in the smiles, the genuine optimism, the talks of what would happen next.
I’d hoped to attend Mass at the hospital’s chapel; but, traveling down SPID, I felt compelled to bite the bullet and drive on Crosstown my second time ever. I had to stop by the chapel at Sacred Heart Church to write in the book of petitions.
The chapel held warm memories from my first visit mid-March, so my thoughts were off on multiple tangents.
I recalled what Esmeralda and I had talked about and wondered how she and her family were doing. Have they been here recently? Did Reymundo recover from his illness? Did he find work? Did Esmeralda work things out with her daughter?
The lighting in the chapel was different, too, so I was visualizing better photo ops the second time around when a man’s gentle voice broke my train of thought.
“You can get closer,” he said softly as he gestured to the area with the pew and the kneelers. “You can take better pictures from here.”
“Thank you! You’re very kind,” I responded as I walked over smilingly and gratefully touched his sleeved arm as he turned to leave.
I knelt and reflected for a bit. I wondered if the man was the priest there and if I should talk to him about scheduling a visit to take photos in the church, but I had somewhere else to be. I could always return to Sacred Heart another time. At that moment, too, I realized that I’d probably missed Mass at the hospital chapel ’cause I’d lost track of time as usual.
I hadn’t been to the Cathedral in more than a year; but it’s tugged at my heartstrings ever since I first noticed its rooftop from the third-floor window at the Omni Bayfront Hotel in May, 2000.
I’d stood in the sunlight, contemplating my drive back to Brownsville at day’s end. Although I’d been to the annual Gifted and Talented Conference by the Sea every year since April, 1995, I’d never noticed the church steeple until then.
So after the conference ended I found my way to the Cathedral. And who should be there waiting for me but the Holy Infant of Prague!
Every time since then, whenever I’m in the vicinity, the Infant always beckons to me; and this time around was no different.
I found a free parking space across the street from the Cathedral; and, thankfully, I happened to have a quarter for the meter. I’d stopped off at the Catholic Shoppe on my way home from the hospital the day before, so I’d gotten change from the bill I’d paid with— a rarity, since I seldom carry, much less pay with, cash.
Being that I don’t wear a watch or carry my cell phone around, I had no idea what time it was; but the Infant had known my heart’s desire. Mass had started just minutes before, and I’d entered in perfect time for the gospel. I felt very much loved.
After Mass, I spent time with the Infant
before driving to the hospital. Then, on getting to the ICU waiting room, I visited with Pat and the girls even though I didn’t see Carlos that day.
Their three doting daughters were such a joy to be around! Very concerned, but very proactively unified about taking care of all that needed to be done. As they came and went at different times, I had the opportunity to listen to each of them. What a blessing to have been part of their lives even for a brief time!
Pat hoped to take Carlos home either that evening or the following day, so we knew our third visit would be the last one at Christus Spohn. Pat, Carlos, and his doctors had already discussed the probability of further treatment at M. D. Anderson Hospital (MDA) in Houston after the test results were in the following week. Nevertheless, we were all in agreement: Carlos was going to be perfectly fine. None of us had any doubts about that.
Pat called to give us an update: Carlos was home. They expected to travel to MDA in about ten days, so all we could do was wait patiently and keep our prayerful thoughts in synch.
So much happened in just one week. Then, just like that, time whizzed by so fast that it’s been three weeks since Carlos had brain surgery.
At present, the family’s awaiting the test results from MDA. According to Pat’s email today, Carlos can’t wait to get back to work. So, yes. The family continues to thank and praise God for his infinite wisdom and his countless blessings as the rest of the story unfolds.
Finally, on a more personal note, God granted my other heartfelt wish, too.
While our parish priest visits family and friends in India for a month, his replacements— August seventh through September fifth— are none other than the chaplains from Christus Spohn Hospital on Shoreline Drive!
How special is that?!!
September 12, 2010
God accepts our desires as though they were of great value. He longs ardently for us to desire and love him. He accepts our petitions for benefits as though we were doing him a favor. His joy in giving is greater than ours in receiving. So let us not be apathetic in our asking, nor set too narrow bounds to our requests, nor ask for frivolous things unworthy of God’s greatness (St. Gregory Nazianzen).
November 5, 2010
I posted the following on the St. Joseph Church blog.
Sometimes building community and supporting people we know supersedes greying the waters. By this I mean that, while I maintain two blogs— Shared thoughts and the one for our church— I try to keep them separate as far as the writing goes; but sometimes I have to mix things up a bit for a good cause.
Our dear friend, Carlos, underwent surgery for a brain tumor; and his miracle of life continues!
Of course, with medical treatment comes huge debt. Insurance doesn’t pay for everything.
For this reason, I’m posting an invitation to tomorrow’s fundraiser in Ingleside. Dinner plates will be sold starting at 11 A.M., and the auction starts at 5 P.M.
If you can participate, wonderful! If you can’t, please keep Carlos and his family in your prayers!
However you can help is a huge blessing that’s greatly appreciated.
Thanks sooo much!
just ME again, Deli
St. Anthony guide.
November 6, 2010
Steven and I went by The Patio Bar this afternoon and found the place packed with friends and supporters.
Pat told us that the various companies in town had pre-ordered one-hundred-fifty meals, which were picked up before regular sales began for the day. What a boost to their fundraising event! Additionally, ninety-five donated items from the various communities will be auctioned by a professional who donated his time and expertise. “Everyone came together for us, and we’re very grateful!”
Carlos gave me a heartfelt hug that couldn’t be put into words.
“I can’t believe it! It must be everyone’s prayers. It’s just amazing!” he said, misty-eyed. Clearly, he was overcome with emotion, “holding it in as much as possible,” he added.
Carlos has been feeling so well for the most part that he can’t believe what the big fuss is all about. “So far the doctor in Corpus has reported positive results based on regular tests and blood work” since his initial treatment at MDA. “Everyone’s saying” that he’ll “receive very good news from MDA” when he goes for thorough testing the week of Thanksgiving.
“That,” Pat beamed, “will be our Thanksgiving treat!”
November 29, 2010
On Thanksgiving Day, Pat called Steven to say they’d returned from MDA in time to share their blessings with the family. Carlos is progressing nicely and will continue with his medications.
In today’s email, Pat wrote,
All went well in Houston, and we were home to feast and have Thanksgiving. It was a good holiday…. Thank you for all the prayers and love. I know Carlos is better because of it. He has more prayers then we can count.
God continues to bless the Lamas family with love, hope, and healing.
February 22, 2011
Pat emailed to say that she’ll be taking Carlos back to MDA tomorrow.
Subject: Good morning
Tuesday, February 22, 2011, 11:20 AM
I hope the day finds you well. I am doing well. Trying to get everything done, so we can leave tomorrow to Houston.
I had to have a long talk with GOD to set my spirit straight. You know, sometimes we let the ways of the world affect us; so I needed to do some soul searching and remember that God always wants us to do as his word says, not as the world says. As humans, we don’t always react to situations the correct way.
Part of my daily prayer is always asking GOD to open my ears and shut my mouth, so I can hear what he’s telling me. I know with all my heart that I would be a lost soul if I didn’t have God and Jesus Christ in my life. With him all things are possible. I feel heartache for those who don’t know his power.
I guess I needed to share my thoughts. Thanks so much for being there.
Have a wonderful week, and may God bless you always.
Subject: Bearing one’s crosses
Tuesday, February 22, 2011 1:54 PM
In keeping with what you said about God being the light and the way? Absolutely! But he also places us in each other’s paths to lighten our burden and make it more bearable.
And— as with St. Anthony, St. Jude, and all the folks we know with whom we enjoin in prayer— what we’re doing is building community, focusing on the same petition so that God knows that we ask together for that singular purpose.
God knows you love him, believe in him faithfully, and will always walk in the light; but, with a little help from our friends, we feel a little more at ease that we’re not alone.
Friends are, after all, God’s gift when we need him most.
I’ve got you in my thoughts and prayers.
Pat was surprised to know that I understood where she was coming from.
Subject: Bearing one’s crosses
Tuesday, February 22, 2011, 2:52 PM
AMAZING!!! This is exactly what I was trying to say to you before lunch. You hit it right on the nose.
Thank you so much. I needed this and you, an angel, delivered it to me!!!!!
AMAZING. TOTALLY AMAZING. Thanks so much.
Pat’s faith is so amazing, so positive, so endearing. She’s a wonderful friend, a true-blue hero who bears her crosses with love.
Subject: Bearing one’s crosses
Tuesday, February 22, 2011 2:59 PM
Yes. We’re the angels-in-synch duo! I tell you, two birds of a feather.
All you needed was affirmation to know that I understood. And I most certainly did.
February 26, 2011
Pat emailed Steven to say that the checkup went well. Carlos’s doctor is very happy to see such good results.
We’ll continue to keep Pat’s family in our thoughts and prayers as Carlos continues with his at-home treatment.
June 24, 2011
This morning, Pat emailed with terrific news.
Wednesday, Carlos and I went to see the cancer doctor in Corpus. He said that Carlos’s bloodwork was great! He’s still losing weight. He’s exercising, and he’s lost about thirty pounds since last year. His blood pressure is perfect, and his diabetes numbers are great.
BOY! Are we BLESSED or what?
Great friends, good health, GOOD JOB. GOD really does provide all our needs. What else could a person ask for?
This is a great day! I am so glad to rejoice in it.
And my response was?
Last night Steven started with, “Oh, I didn’t tell you” and then proceeded to add the GLORIOUS NEWS about Carlos as he tried to mimic how the doctor must’ve jokingly told Carlos, “And I don’t want to see you for three months!”
We were OVER THE MOON about it.
“To think,” I responded, “that all this happened in just eleven months!”
WOW. That’s A LOT OF PROGRESS in such a short time when you stop and think about the seriousness of Carlos’s condition a year ago! And, in the process, his other health issues have improved as well. Wow.
Thank God and all his angels and saints. Thank God for Carlos’s will and determination, for your unshakable faith, and for your family’s love.
Everyone came together even more so that your prayerful healing powers were magnified by God’s sweet, lovely miracles.
Just AMAZING, really.
July 26, 2012
Wow! It’s hard to believe that it’s been two years since Carlos underwent major surgery.
Waiting, praying, always with the most positive outlook, Pat and her family didn’t let the brain tumor diagnosis daunt their family’s spirit. So Pat’s email today makes perfect sense, being that Carlos always said he fine.
Re: Carlos update
Thursday, 1:38 P.M.
I just wanted to share the news about Carlos. His cancer is GONE!!! All that the doctor saw was scare tissue. YEA!!
Now he’s off chemo. He’ll go back in four months for a checkup, then again in four more months. The doctor’s not putting him on maintenance till then so his body can heal from the two years of chemo. He’ll go on a preventive plan; and we’ll go to MDA every four months for one year, then every six months for five years.
I’m so glad he does not need to have chemo any more. Now we’re just down to our hometown doctor with normal physicals and such.
Praise God for the Miracle Guy’s incredible news!
August 31, 2015
Steven emailed from work to share the latest on the Miracle Guy.
Sent: Monday, August 31, 2015 12:36 PM
Pat is back today. She was out Thursday and Friday to take Carlos to MDA. Another good check-up. He’s now been cancer-free for twenty-six months. If he’s good the next check-up, he will go to a six-month (instead of a four-month) protocol.
As I told her, the power of prayer cannot be denied.
Amen and hallelujah! We are forever awed and eternally grateful! Praise God!
June 6, 2016
“The will of God is not a fate which has to be endured, but a holy and meaningful act which ushers in a new creation” (Romano Guardini, The Art of Praying).
Links of interest… CCTX Cathedral: about / history / parishes online / website… Healing: book (notes) / how to pray… Holy Infant: about (more) / church (images / map) / patron saint / prayers / statue (more)… In the name of Jesus… Live in the light… Sacred Heart Church: parishes online / map / profile… the Word among us…
WP posts… Building community… Easter surprises… Holy relics… Noon visit…
One prayer… Picturing God… Powerful intercessor… Prayers and blessings… Sacred Heart Church… Saintly connections… Saturday evening Mass… Si quaeris miracula… St. Anthony chaplets… St. Bonaventure Church… St. Peregrine relic… Stella Maris
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