Happy Feast Of Saint Theresa. Here is a story I wrote about our little Prayer warrior Sadie in 1999. She loved St Theresa.
On a glorious morning in June of 1999, I was admiring God’s amazing handy work and daydreaming about the warm summer days ahead. Roses and all the glorious summer flowers were just bursting into bloom. I was enjoying the fruits of my labors by sitting in my small patio garden and planning for the summer months ahead. Pictures of the
family gatherings and outdoor summer BBQ’s were dancing in my head.
The ringing sound of my telephone would change those thoughts in an instant. Never in my wildest imaginings, could I have envisioned how very differently that summer would be. It would begin a family journey of great trials. A journey that would be filled with fear, heartache, and tears that none of us could have foreseen on that early summer morning.
As I strolled into the kitchen to quickly catch the phone call, I had expected a cheery greeting on the other end. Immediately though, I knew by the sound of my Aunt Dories voice, something was very much amiss. Her voice was tense from struggling to control her tears. She quickly explained that her daughter (my cousin Terry) was on the way to a Trauma hospital. Her sixteen-year-old son Kelly had been in a terrible car accident. He had flat lined several times on the way to the first hospital they took
him to. Their parish priest had jumped in the ambulance as it sped away. It was touch and go as to whether Kelly would survive. With a quick goodbye, we began a summer’s journey, which would take us over roads we never would have planned to travel.
In the days and weeks following the accident, Kelly remained in serious condition. In July they moved him to the “Children’s Hospital” in Denver, CO. Kelly was still in coma, but in Denver he was close to a larger part of our extensive family. Terry’s brothers and sisters all live there. It helped ease the burden somewhat. Terry and Dwaine (Kelly’s parents) had a large support base to help out with Kelly’s care and the hospital visits. Terry’s sister Pam, and her family were a large part of the support team caring for Kelly. Pam’s little daughter Sadie was the littlest Prayer warrior for her cousin Kelly. She
and Kelly were very close, and even though Sadie was only six, Kelly had always been her hero.
Through all the weeks of Kelly’s remaining in coma, Sadie made it her project to pray to “St. Theresa the Little Flower.” Sadie was adamant that Saint Theresa would gain a miracle for Kelly. She knew her cousin would be well again, because she said; “St Theresa had told her so.” In return, Sadie had promised God that she too would help the missions, just like Theresa had always wanted to. We were
all amused at her Mission fervor and her faithfulness to prayer.
Sadie’s vigilance paid off. In late July, Father Peter Mary Rookey, arranged a phone conference of prayer. The phone was placed next to Kelly’s ear, and Father Rookey prayed and spoke to Kelly even though he was in coma. Kelly came out of coma and made remarkable progress. We were all relieved and elated of course. By the last week of September it appeared as though our worlds were finally coming back to normal once again.
Kelly was home and in rehab and progressing quite well. No one gave much thought to the minor surgery coming up for Sadie. It was just a routine Tonsillectomy after all. We giggled at how Sadie was so brave and said St Theresa was going to make sure she could eat French Fries when she got home from the hospital. She wasn’t very happy, later when she was told “No French fries,” until the Doctor said it was ok. But she did like the fact she got ice cream whenever she wanted it. The surgery was on Monday morning and she was home by that afternoon. Sadie, was one of those children that nothing seemed to phase much. She
could entertain herself for hours talking to her imaginary friends, to Saint Theresa and to Jesus.
The following Friday began with a check-up at the doctor’s office. After that, Pam and the girls (Sadie and her sister Laney) went shopping. Pam and the girls kept finding Rose Petals on every aisle they turned into in the store. No one seemed to know where they came from. Sadie took it in stride as only a six year old can…She was sure St. Theresa had sent her Rose Petal’s for being such a
good patient and dutifully not eating any French Fries when they had stopped for lunch before going back home.
Friday night, the girls played until bedtime in their playroom. Sadie drew pictures for her Mommy and Daddy. They were the kind of children’s art, which all parents know are better than any the artist Picasso could ever create. At bedtime, Glenn and Pam listened to the girls say their nighttime prayers and everyone dutifully let Sadie say her favorite prayers to Saint Theresa and to her guardian angel. All in all, the day had been quite ordinary, except for the mysterious Rose Petals.
At the time, I was in Marytown, IL at the retreat center. I was on a pilgrimage to offer our thanksgiving for God’s marvelous mercy and answer to our prayers that summer. From place to place in my travels I also kept finding mysterious showers of Rose Petals. On the Feast of St. Theresa, I attended a special Memorial Mass for her Feast Day. I was in awe that I was the only one allowed to take a picture of the statue. It is very old and precious, so
cameras are not allowed. As I snapped the picture I found a shower of Rose Petals at my feet once again. I decided it must be a picture meant for Sadie. St. Theresa would want me to give it to her I was quite sure.
Just as I came in the door from the airport on Sunday morning, my husband told me I needed to call my Aunt Dorie. By the way he quickly turned away with tears in his eyes, I knew something was very wrong.
With my heart in my throat, I quickly dialed the number; all the while thinking Kelly must have had another crisis. Instead, my Aunt delivered the terrible news that our
Little prayer warrior Sadie had died. Sadie’s scab had come off during the night and she had hemorrhaged to death. Pam found her on Saturday morning, when she went to wake her up for breakfast.
Through the days that followed, we all clung to Sadie’s beloved St. Theresa to give us comfort. Losing a child is a nightmare beyond belief. Losing a child so unexpectedly has got to be even worse. For the first week Pam and Glenn were not allowed to make arrangements to bury Sadie. The police cordoned off the house as though it were a crime scene. It took and autopsy and the doctor’s surgical records to get the body released for burial. The doctor had accidentally cut the carotid artery during surgery and lasered it shut, along with the normal wound of a tonsillectomy. The doctor never mentioned the mistake that she had made during surgery. It was mistake, which would take my family to our knees once more in prayer. This time the prayer was one of grief without the hope of physical
healing. They were prayers of anguish and heartbreak. We had no ability to even ask…”Why God? Why Sadie?” Although I know we all must have thought it from time to time.
Sadie, ever the faithful prayer warrior would not have been pleased if we had.
As if to punctuate Sadie’s happiness and trust in God, my Aunt found a seemingly heaven sent sign, while cleaning up the playroom before the funeral. There on the play table was Sadie’s last drawing she did of herself. She drew herself with angel wings. It was covered with those same mysterious Rose Petals and it was signed; “Sadie – I am so happy. Jesus Loves Me!”
In the end, we have grieved and we have mourned, but we know nonetheless, that Sadie is safe and warm. Sadie is enjoying the vision only she could see when she gave us the courage of her little prayers. As Pam and Glenn testified at the rosary vigil the night before the funeral…”She was ours but for a little while. God gave her to us on loan. He gave us a beautiful child to return to
Him as a saint, when she was finished with her mission.” Sadie’s mission in this life has blessed us all. We are the family of one of God’s “littlest Saints.”