“And by the vision splendid is on [her] way attended; at length the [wo]man perceives it die away, and fade into the light of common day.” William Wordsworth 1770-1850
Five years after the birth of my second child, I was at home preparing for an ultrasound appointment. The local hospital was only a few miles away, so I was in no rush. My children were at school and the day was quite ordinary. Except I remember feeling a kind of sacredness in the simple tasks of showering, doing my hair, applying make up and putting on comfortable clothing – almost like I was getting ready to attend the temple. Perhaps I was in a meditative state of mind. After all, I was nine months pregnant and on this day I would see images of my unborn child for the first time.
It was September 1988 and routine ultrasound during pregnancy had just begun coming into vogue, so I hadn’t had a pre-natal sonogram. My pregnancy had progressed unremarkably, but the delivery would not be routine. Not in the sense of a typical vaginal birth. Sara, my third child, would be delivered by cesarean section, as had Lauren, my first, and Luke, my second.
By this time I had grieved the loss of vaginal birth. This loss is real and profound for those who anticipate a sort of primal, natural, un-assisted birth experience. But God had granted me peace and I was happy for the miracles involved with cesarean delivery. For instance, I felt awed by resources available to test my child’s fetal development and fitness for entry into her oxygen-breathing life before she would be born. An ultrasound is part of this procedure.
My marriage was coming to an end, for which I was both grateful and disturbed. Looking back, I realize how vulnerable I was, bearing up under the crushing weight of abuse as I carried my daughter in my womb.
I felt especially alone that day, but not necessarily lonely. It was as if my child and I were held in a space created for the two of us, where no one else would enter. The world and its cares retreated into soft focus as I picked up car keys from the desk, pulled my purse over my shoulder and opened the front door. Walking beneath limbs of an ancient Linden tree growing in the yard, I remember looking up into an astounding Autumn sky – where blue becomes a color I can’t name and the air is so clear it makes my heart ache.
I opened the car door, maneuvered my backside and belly into the driver seat, then started the engine. As I pulled away from the curb, I was instantly aware of what can only be described as a host of heavenly beings, praising God and celebrating the child I was carrying. The angels traveled effortlessly above us as we drove the streets of the neighborhood. I remember being amazed at how they adjusted their speed to remain hovering above and around the vehicle. I honestly thought, “This is fantastic!” as I wept and kept driving. “How do they know the car will speed up or slow down? How do they stay so perfectly connected to this child?” It was clear these beings were intensely interested and delighted in my unborn child. They had little concern for me. They were attending Sara’s birth, accompanying Sara’s soul as she prepared to make her way from their world into ours. The depth and breadth of their joyful love, quite frankly, is impossible for me to put into words. And it was more real than any visible expression of love I’ve ever experienced.
These people were familiar with my daughter. They understood the challenges she would face in mortality. They apparently understood the nature of her personality, her strengths and weaknesses, her life mission, her pre-mortal history and every line in the fingerprints of her unborn hands. They were her heavenly posse, her entourage. That’s the closest I can come to describing this group. And, sister, if this is what guardian angels are, then none of us has anything to fear. They were fierce and powerful and beautiful and full of God’s love and light. They were female and male, young and old, varied in their backgrounds, everything good in heaven and earth.
I don’t remember now how long I remained aware of them. And I don’t fully understand why or how I felt this heavenly host, but it was abundantly clear that none of it was about me, at least not in the particulars. I was witness to The Truth of Sara, my unknown, unborn child, her incomprehensible worth to God, and to a body of support that I believe is with her still – and, indeed, with us all.