It was a small room, barely holding the single bed occupying it. The tiny casement window was a half-inch deep in frost and the room was bitterly cold.
Nearby, in her crib, our tiny year-old daughter was snuggled in her feather quilt, immune to the frigid atmosphere that permeated the room.
I cuddled up to my husband …. not only from affection but because the cold had chilled me thoroughly. I could feel another spasm of coughing surfacing. “Oh, no,” I sighed, “not again.” It was the fourth time that night.
Quietly I slid out of bed and headed for the kitchen, where a pan of water sat on a gas ring. I turned it up and a gentle steam slowly rose. Quickly I pulled a nearby towel over my head and breathed in the vapour. It was the only thing that relieved my coughing and gradually the spasm lessened.
What was I to do? I had been sick since we had been posted to Germany. It was just 10 years after the war and there was no accommodation anywhere. There was nothing available in the married quarters and all we could find to live in was a third floor walk-up in an unheated building. We had two tiny rooms (including a kitchen) and our own toilet, but the bathtub was on the lower floor and available only once weekly. So many miles away from home; so sick and a baby to care for … it was becoming a desperate situation.
The bronchitis that had haunted my childhood had reared its ugly head. I knew I couldn't carry on much longer. There had been weeks of coughing and wheezing. My chest ached, my head ached and my heart ached. Desperate, I cried out to God: “Please help me, Lord.” Finally, I mopped up my tears, crawled in beside my husband and fell into an exhausted sleep.
My eyes were heavy when the alarm rang, but babies expect warm bottles, so I pulled myself reluctantly out of bed and headed for the kitchen. I had mastered starting a fire from scratch and it didn't take long for the room to warm.
I bent over our daughter and gently lifted her, quilt and all. Her big blue eyes watched in anticipation as I reached for her warm bottle and I sat with my feet balanced on the open oven door enjoying the tiny bit of heat radiating from the oven. Tears fell as I held her close. My bronchitis was a chronic problem … causing my own mother much grief years before. Her “goose-grease” chest rubs had never helped much and even steaming was no cure. But now I was the mother and a very sick one.
I could hear my husband getting dressed and glanced up as he came into the room.
“You've been crying and you look exhausted.” His brow furrowed. He ate quickly, kissed us both goodbye and was out the door.
It was a quiet morning and long before I expected him for lunch I could hear his feet pounding up the stairwells and the door flew open.
“Eat your lunch, sweetheart, get the baby, and we are heading for the station. I've got an appointment for you with a specialist!”
I must have looked bewildered for he said again, “Come on …” then explained: “I couldn't stand to see you sick any more, so I went to see the commanding officer about a compassionate posting home. He listened, made a quick phone call and arranged this appointment for you.”
That was my first miracle of the day. God had heard my prayers. The second one was that afternoon. The specialist examined me and advised, “You don't have bronchitis, you have severe asthma.” Then he added the wonderful words, “and we can help you get better.”
So many years ago … and God is still answering my prayers.
- People & Places