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A Blessing Named "Blessing"
I was raised on the edge of a cliff. No, seriously, if you walked out our back door (which was actually our front door) and about fifteen feet away, there would be a five-hundred foot sheer drop to a lake below. From the time I was two until I was ten or twelve, I lived on that cliff. We were farmers in Northern Idaho (the pretty side; no offense to those of you living in Southern Idaho): we raised chickens, pigs, dogs, horses, sheep and goats all on the tree farm where our property was located.
For me, a young girl with an over-active imagination, it was my Wonder-World. The woods in front of our goat/horse pen doubled as the headquarters for HARKLS, my detective agency, where my five friends and I would solve crimes like the Ghostwriter club or the Olsen and Olsen Detective Agency or the Mystery Inc. gang; and the RaKaAn Museum, where my friends Annie, Kayla and I would keep our very rare and expensive collection of old cat and wild animal bones, and our collection of door knobs from old, burned down trailers; then there was also the tree cave and my secret hiding place that I had found a few years before we moved. Those woods were my ultimate Imagination Station.
Those woods were also almost the end of me. When I was six, I was obsessed with climbing trees. Short ones, tall ones, skinny ones, fat ones, I'd climb them all. The March of that year was when the snow finally began melting away. It was time to put away the sleds and skis, and move on the more important things in life: my love of trees. I was out one day, I believe it was right before St. Patrick's Day, climbing trees. I don't recall how long I was out or how many trees I had climbed, but I do remember resting against a tree. Now, that may not seem like something major or even all that important, but simply resting my head against that tree, the largest in the whole wood, almost ended my life.
It didn't seem like anything significant at the time and probably for a few weeks after I didn't even think about it. While it may be fuzzy and I may not remember which trees I climbed or what I did afterward, I do remember leaning against that tree; the big one with the crazy long and tangled branches; the one that, for years, I was unable to climb because it's lowest branches were too high. I leaned against that tree, and changed my life forever.
A few days after, my sister, Elisabeth, and I were having a grand old time doing our favorite thing: jumping off of a stack of two-by-fours. Elisabeth almost wanted to stop since, each time I jumped off, I would fall and not be able to pick myself back up. She would have to stop, walk around and help me stand up. Me being the younger sister, she probably believed I was playing a game or just wanted attention. But in reality, each time I was knocked off balance, I was unable to catch myself. My legs had grown weak.
That same night, right before bedtime, Mom told me to put away my books. I headed into our "Idaho Room", where the bookshelf was, and tripped over the step. I landed on the hard, wood floor and burst into a fit of giggles. Since Elisabeth had already told them about my behavior at the wood pile, my parents believed I was just being a silly little girl and told me to go to bed.
My parents never watched tv during the day, except on weekends, so they would stay up after Elisabeth and I went to bed to watch the shows we weren't allowed to see. Around eleven o'clock that night, they were still up, watching a crime show, if I remember correctly. I had woken up, or possibly never fell asleep, and went into the living room. I had felt a bump on my head and decided to tell my parents. When I was younger, I was a hypochondriac (I get it from my grandfather), which caused my parents to simply send me back to bed.
"We'll check it in the morning." Dad told me. The morning almost didn't come for me.
I went back to sleep. Earlier in the week, our Saanen doe had kidded. We bottled fed each of our kids, so that when they were grown, they would be used to humans, and since the kid was quite young, she had to be bottle-fed every three hours. Around two in the morning, Mom got up and went to feed the little doe. When she returned, Dad was snoring. Mom has never been able to sleep with snoring, so she gathered a blanket and headed for a camp-out in the living room. Our bedroom door was always left open a crack, because out in the middle of no-where, nights were very dark. Mom saw that Elisabeth and I were both uncovered and came in to cover us up. Right as she was about to leave, I woke again, this time wanting a glass of water. Mom told me to get one quickly and then get back into bed.
I actually had a dream about this last night. The same feeling I experienced that night all those years before, I experienced last night in my dream. The only thing that was different was I wasn't confused. In my dream, I knew what was happening. Back when I was six, I couldn't, for the life of me, understand why my legs wouldn't work. I had to use my bed for support, and once I let go, my legs gave out and I found myself on the floor.
I'm still not sure if Mom had heard me hit the floor or simply came back to check on me or maybe, I called for her, I don't know. All I know is that Mom was there to pick me up. She told me my legs were like jello as she tried to help me stand. She set me on the floor and quickly ran to get Dad. When they returned, Mom told to me get up and "walk to Daddy", but no matter how hard I tried, I could only crawl, dragging my legs behind me. Immediately they woke Elisabeth and drove me to the hospital. We were nearly fifteen minutes from town, and an ambulance would have taken twice as long, due to the steep hills and narrow, unpaved roads.
We arrived at the hospital and I was taken back to the ER. Many doctors and nurses began running random tests and giving me shots and taking my blood. I only remember crying once, when a nurse had to take my blood, but I'm not sure it was caused by the shot. I think it was more the whole situation. I was a six year old, who had never in her entire life entered a hospital (not even when I entered the world) and now I was being given dozens of different tests, while the doctors attempted to figure out why I was slowly being paralyzed.
When we left the house, only my legs had been paralyzed; but by the time we had reached the hospital, I was slowly losing control of my arms. The doctors were getting desperate. It would only be a matter of time before my lungs and eventually my heart would also be paralyzed. They had been eliminating diseases left and right, but were coming no closer to finding the cause. I wasn't quite sure what was happening; I saw doctors and nurses running this way and that, smacking my knees with hammers and telling me to touch my nose or theirs; Mom was standing beside me, holding my hand; and Elisabeth was on the other side of the room, crying in Dad's arms. At first I thought she had gotten in trouble, but Mom told me that Elisabeth was scared that she would lose her baby sister (to this day, she will deny it). I believe it hit me then, I could actually die. Before it had never crossed my mind, but I think death is never the first thing that comes to mind when you're that young; you think of dumb things, like, I won't be able to go to Annie's birthday party; or we were going to the amusement park next week, what if I have to miss it; or even, where the heck is my Rudolph?
But at that moment death became a reality. My parents and the doctors and possibly seven-year-old Elisabeth were praying. They were praying that God wouldn't allow their little girl/sister/patient to be taken from them. And I wasn't. All thanks to the fact that my mind went right back to the most important thing: the bump. Once the doctors and nurses had left, I looked up at Mom, and reminded her of the bump she promised to look at that morning. I believe it struck her there that the bump may be the culprit in my parylization. She searched my hair and before even telling me what the bump was or removing it, she dashed into the hallway, calling for the doctor.
The doctor returned and began searching my head. I was annoyed. I was the one who had the bump on their head and yet, no one bothered to tell me what on earth was going on! Except the next thing I knew, was the doctor was telling me to brace myself and, before I knew, he was ripping out a chunk of my scalp.
Now, we come back to the tree. Why was the tree to blame for my parylization? Well, it wasn't the tree by itself. No, it was what lived on the tree. A dog tick. An itty-bitty little bug almost killed me. I had Tick Paralysis, a disease where a tick, one that is not found immediately, begins to poison you as it sucks out your blood. The doctors had immediately dismissed the idea of Tick Paralysis because it was too early in the year. Ticks came into season nearer to April or May, not March. Only two people in the history of our county had ever had Tick Paralysis and I was the second; it was kind of ironic, our landlord knew both victims. A vet friend of ours told us she had seen this same disease kill full grown horses, and that I was quite lucky.
But my family knew that I wasn't lucky. I was blessed. When we returned home, after a long morning of having every nurse in the hospital come and see my "pet", and me stealing Mom's cereal, we named our baby doe. Her name was Blessing, because without her, Mom never would have been awake to feed her and she never would have been kept awake by Dad's snoring, which means she never would have come into the living room, found me uncovered, accidentally woken me up, causing me to want a drink of water and discovering my legs to be paralyzed. Some may say that was simply chance or fate or the beat of a butterflies wings, but we know what it was. It was God. God still had plans for me and would not allow me to die before His timing. Some people cannot understand why God would allow bad things to happen to young children, and I can't answer that. But I can tell you He has a plan. He kept me from dieing because He has something important in store for me. He keeps many from dieing for many reasons, or if it's their time, He calls them Home. All I know, is I'm still here, and it's all because of God and a little blessing named Blessing.