Angels in Human Form
There are people who believe that angels sometimes take
human form and there are some who believe they've actually
met one. I'm not certain if that's possible but there was
one incident in my life which has caused me to wonder about
it for many years.
In the weeks after the deaths of Steven and my daughter I
chose to stop living in this world, the real one, and
instead lived in one in my mind. I became more and more
withdrawn, to the point of no longer speaking or responding
to others, although I was at times, aware of what was going
on around me. I'd dived into a deep, deep ocean where
everything was calm and peaceful and I could stay hidden. It
was dark and warm and very much like a womb. Still, I like
the image of an ocean more because my world felt vast and I
didn't feel confined. I came up to the surface a few times.
The air was cold and sounds were loud and everything was
hard and harsh. And people would appear. They would shout at
me and try to grab me but each time I would escape and slip
back into my own world. Each time I would dive down deeper,
where I would be safe.
I was hospitalized with a diagnosis of severe depression. I
can only remember little bits and pieces of that time.
People, doctors I suppose now, would sit and talk to me but
the words would float out of their mouths and fade away,
like smoke. They gave me pills but I don't remember that
they did anything except make me sleepy. Twice I had a
series of electric shock treatments which left me feeling
confused, unable to be in the real world or in the one in my
mind but leaving me in a horrible limbo for a period of
time, until everything settled down again and I could go
back into my own, safe world.
Things remained the same until I stopped eating. I had been
on the slender side to start so it didn't take very long for
there to be a noticeable effect. I remember a doctor
bringing me to a room where there was a full length mirror.
He stood me in front of it and told me to look and tell him
what I saw. When I didn't answer he told me that what he saw
resembled photographs of a concentration camp survivor. I
looked in the mirror and I saw him and a reflection of the
room behind me but nothing else. I wasn't there at all.
Then one day was different. I was given a series of medical
tests. I was poked and prodded and there were different
instruments used and at the end of the day I was moved to
the medical part of the hospital. The tests had shown that
my heart beat was erratic and my kidneys were beginning to
fail. There was something else too, something I don't think
the doctors knew. I would lose my sight for a period of time
and then it would return. I still wasn't speaking and I
certainly wasn't going to tell them this as I welcomed the
darkness and was always disappointed when I realized that I
could see again.
Early the next morning a doctor I didn't know came into my
room. He was curt and grim and serious and stood next to my
bed, looming down over me. He told me that a diet of
semi-solid foods had been ordered and that if I didn't begin
eating by the end of the day the hospital would seek and get
a court order the next day and they would immediately begin
force feeding me. He described what would be done in detail.
My head would be restrained and my arms and legs would be
tied to the bed. A tube would be inserted through my nose
into my esophagus and into my stomach. It won't be pleasant,
he told me. You may as well eat. We're not going to let you
die. I said nothing.
Later that morning I lost my sight again and a few moments
later someone entered my room. A nurse, I thought, checking
on something . But he came and sat on the edge of the bed
and after a moment, began speaking to me in a quiet and
gentle voice. "You're dying" he said softly to me. "You're
going to have what you've longed for all of these months.
You'll be with Steven and your daughter." He asked me if I
believed that this was what Steven wanted. Steven hadn't
wanted to die. He'd wanted to live and here I was, throwing
life away. It wasn't time for me to die yet. There were
things I needed to do. The stranger continued speaking in
his soft voice for a few more minutes, touched my shoulder
lightly, and left. My sight came back a bit later but he was
already gone. I thought about what he'd said for several
hours and then found the buzzer for the nurse. When she came
in I told her I wanted something to eat. She looked at me,
surprised, and asked me to repeat what I'd said. I hadn't
spoken in many months and my voice was difficult to
understand. I repeated it. She left the room and returned
with another nurse and again, she asked me to repeat what
I'd said. I did. They brought me a small glass of apple
juice and I drank it. They watched me drink it and then
left, returning with a plate of jello which I ate.
It was many more weeks before I left the hospital. They
wouldn't discharge me until I weighed 100 pounds and
considered me stable enough to be on my own.
I don't know if the doctor could have gotten a court order
and force fed me. I don't know if they'd played bad
doctor/good doctor. Was it a doctor who'd come into my room
that day? A nurse? An angel? I don't know. And perhaps, it
doesn't really matter.