Disclaimer: When I'm overwhelmed by a big, bad set of emotions, I attempt to make light of the situation that generated said emotions. So as you read this, please don't think I'm coldhearted and glib regarding the story that's about to unfold. I just can't let myself fully ponder the "what ifs."
I grew up hearing pleasant little stories about guardian angels and reading the Family Circus comic strip where cute little beings with wings protected the kids from falling out of trees and whatnot.
And then when I was a very young teenager, Frank Peretti wrote a few books that piqued my interest. You may remember This Present Darkness
and Piercing the Darkness.
Now those angels were totally gnarly. Yeah. I said "totally gnarly." Because they were. Totally. Gnarly.
If guardian angels existed, I wanted mine to be like Krioni. Or Scion. Or Signa. Or Triskal. Any one of those angels from the books would have been good as far as protecting me from unseen oncoming cars and such. But I never thought much more about it than that.
But if I do decide to adopt a theology of angels, it's because of the events that transpired in the early morning hours of Tuesday, April 12, 2011.
Karis is normally a very restless, "tormented" sleeper. She is notorious for crying out at night, talking in her sleep, and tossing and turning. So I've learned to tune some of it out.
On Tuesday at approximately 1 a.m., I was awakened suddenly by her voice clearly and calmly calling out to me, "MOM! MOM! MOM!" So I stumbled, semi-comatose, into her room only to find her sleeping soundly with the comforter pulled up around her chin.
Thinking everything was fine and wondering if I'd simply imagined hearing her call to me, I gave in to the uncontrollable urge to stroke her soft, chubby cheek. When I did, she stirred a little, shifting the comforter away from her neck.
Glow from the hallway nightlight revealed a shocking sight. Something was wrapped tightly around her neck.
The metallic taste of fear filled the back of my throat as I yanked the comforter back. I attempted to pull back the sheet as well. It didn't move.
Somehow, the decorative satin ribbon that was sewn into the hem of the flat sheet had come loose. (See the picture below for an example of the ribbon to which I'm referring:)
I immediately tried to slip my fingers between the ribbon and her neck to loosen it. It was so tight I could barely do so. The ribbon was also still somewhat attached to the sheet, so I simply ripped it completely off and then proceeded to unwind it from my 3 year-old's neck.
At that point she woke up a little. So I asked her some questions to see if she could speak, think, etc. She answered each one and then gave me a big hug as she mumbled, "I love you, Mommy." Then she snuggled back down into the comforter and fell asleep.
I stood above her bed, watching her breathe, for a few moments before making my way into the living room where I collapsed onto the couch. The adrenalin slowly stopped coursing through my veins.
After a while, I went back to bed and stared at the ceiling for an hour, silently and tearfully thanking Jesus for protecting my baby. (I chose not to tell Aaron at that point because I knew sleep would elude him for the rest of the night/morning.)
When she bounded out of her room at 7:30 a.m., excited to start the day, I noticed a bruise around her neck from where the ribbon was wrapped - a vivid reminder that those terrifying moments in the early morning hours had, in fact, really happened and I had not dreamed them.
As I examined the bruise on her soft, warm skin, I explained to Aaron what had happened. He simply stared in wide eyed horror as I talked. (When Aaron is overwhelmed by big, bad emotions he gets quiet.)
With tears in my eyes, I turned to Karis and attempted to make a joke, "You owe your guardian angel an apology for keeping him up so late!"
Props to Krioni. Or Scion. Or Signa. Or Triskal.
But seriously, thanks to my God...my Savior...my friend - for keeping her safe and waking me out of my normally impossible-to-rouse state of sleep. Or we could have been having a very different kind of week.