Aug 11, 2013 0
A friend, the noted theatrical impresario Charles Putnam Basbas, recently forwarded one of those oft-forwarded internet stories to me. The story of a miracle baby born prematurely, it was not outrageously implausible (not to me anyway; my children were born 10 weeks, five weeks, and eight weeks early around 30 years ago when those factors were dicey; and they had, and have, healthy, robust lives). Yet this story, as full of meaning as of surprises, checked out as true when I pursued “truth or fiction” sites.
Maybe you, too, have read it:
The Smell of Rain
A cold March wind danced around the dead of night in Dallas as the doctor walked into the small hospital room of Diana Blessing. She was still groggy from surgery. Her husband, David, held her hand as they braced themselves for the latest news. That afternoon of March 10, 1991, complications had forced Diana, only 24 weeks pregnant, to undergo an emergency Cesarean to deliver couple’s new daughter, Danae Lu Blessing.
At 12 inches long and weighing only one pound nine ounces, they already knew she was perilously premature. Still, the doctor’s soft words dropped like bombs.
“I don’t think she’s going to make it,” he said, as kindly as he could. “There’s only a 10 per cent chance she will live through the night, and even then, if by some slim chance she does make it, her future could be a very cruel one.”
Numb with disbelief, David and Diana listened as the doctor described the devastating problems Danae would likely face if she survived. She would never walk, she would never talk, she would probably be blind, and she would certainly be prone to other catastrophic conditions from cerebral palsy to complete mental retardation, and on and on.
“No! No!” was all Diana could say. She and David, with their 5-year-old son Dustin, had long dreamed of the day they would have a daughter to become a family of four. Now, within a matter of hours, that dream was slipping away.
But as those first days passed, a new agony set in for David and Diana. Because Danae’s underdeveloped nervous system was essentially “raw,” the lightest kiss or caress only intensified her discomfort, so they couldn’t even cradle their tiny baby girl against their chests to offer the strength of their love. All they could do, as Danae struggled alone beneath the ultraviolet light in the tangle of tubes and wires, was to pray that God would stay close to their precious little girl.
There was never a moment when Danae suddenly grew stronger. But as the weeks went by, she did slowly gain an ounce of weight here and an ounce of strength there. At last, when Danae turned two months old. her parents were able to hold her in their arms for the very first time. And two months later, though doctors continued to gently but grimly warn that her chances of surviving, much less living any kind of normal life, were next to zero, Danae went home from the hospital, just as her mother had predicted.
[Five years later] Danae was a petite but feisty young girl with glittering gray eyes and an unquenchable zest for life. She showed no signs whatsoever of any mental or physical impairment. Simply, she was everything a little girl can be and more. But that happy ending is far from the end of her story.
One blistering afternoon in the summer of 1996 near her home in Irving, Texas, Danae was sitting in her mother’s lap in the bleachers of a local ball park where her brother Dustin’s baseball team was practicing.
As always, Danae was chattering nonstop with her mother and several other adults sitting nearby, when she suddenly fell silent . Hugging her arms across her chest, little Danae asked, “Do you smell that?”
Smelling the air and detecting the approach of a thunderstorm, Diana replied, “Yes, it smells like rain.”
Danae closed her eyes and again asked, “Do you smell that?”
Once again, her mother replied, “Yes, I think we’re about to get wet. It smells like rain.”
Still caught in the moment, Danae shook her head, patted her thin shoulders with her small hands and loudly announced, “No, it smells like Him. It smells like God when you lay your head on his chest.”
Tears blurred Diana’s eyes as Danae happily hopped down to play with the other children. Before the rains came, her daughter’s words confirmed what Diana and all the members of the extended Blessing family had known, at least in their hearts, all along.
During those long days and nights of her first two months of her life, when her nerves were too sensitive for them to touch her, God was holding Danae on His chest and it is His loving scent that she remembers so well.
Back to MMMM. As I noted, in recent years, Danae’s story has circulated on the internet. It first was published in Richard L. Scott’s book, Miracles In Our Midst: Stories of Life, Love, Kindness, and Other Miracles (Wessex House). Scott, the former CEO of Columbia Health Systems and currently the Republican governor of Florida, sought out tales of triumph over medical odds. Danae’s story (then titled “Heaven Scent”) is his favorite. That little girl Danae, without knowing it, has inspired many people. An angel, in her own way.
To me, the spiritual “icing on the cake” to this story Charlie forwarded was someone’s legend at the bottom:
ANGELS EXIST, but sometimes, since they don’t all have wings, we call them FRIENDS.
And this summation reminded me of a song with a spiritual message, sung by a secular singer, the great Delbert McClinton (who is great even when Vince Gill and Lee Roy Parnell are not backing him up…) —