The Road to Neala (June 2016)
It takes effort to stay positive and live a life of joy and gratitude. But I have learned that the outcome is too rewarding to not put forth the effort. This short story is about one day when I made such an effort and clearly saw god and the angels take control to fulfill a dream which I had almost let go of.
After checking on my dad in assisted living, driving home well after dinner, I was listening to music and had this gut feeling that something just happened. Minutes later my wandering mind was alerted by the ringing phone. My beautifully pregnant daughter Danielle Marie was on the other line. “Mommy, pretty sure my water just broke!” My intuition was right on queue something had just happened and a new life was on the way. My heart lifted out of its worried state knowing that the gut feeling was due to the miracle of life versus another hurdle to maneuver. “Call the doctor” I said, “I did mom and we are on our way to the hospital.” Smiling and tearing with joy as I completed my drive home, my heart then fell realizing that my dream to be there for Danielle during delivery of her first baby was unlikely. Her baby was arriving earlier than planned and going from California to Pennsylvania was a day long venture, since the water broke I had a best 24 hours to make it. Work was crazy, dad had just moved to assisted living and we were in the process of selling the house our family had lived in for almost 50 years. My mind was working through a thousand thoughts and I don’t even recall pulling into the driveway and walking into the house.
After telling my husband Dan and texting family and friends the news, I walked up stairs and as I slowly changed out of my work clothes I began to slump in the corner. My silent thoughts surprised me and urged “ask for time off, buy a ticket and go.” I began to search for tickets to get a sense of if I could make it happen financially and though surprised at the high cost, I then sent Danielle a text to get her thoughts on if she wanted me to be there now or wait and come after a while. Her quick response “now” helped give me the courage to take the next step and text to my boss. I had only been employed there for six months, having a huge workload, new staff and important events and deadlines, I was hesitant to ask for time off until receiving the words from my daughter “now”. With encouragement my boss said take the time I needed. It took me the next three hours to find a flight to PA and it wouldn’t be until the next day that I understood why. But at about 11 that night, I secured a flight leaving Los Angeles to Pittsburgh, packed in 10 minutes and tried to sleep with the looming alarm clock set for 3 am. No sleep was had, but Danielle and I text through the night as she and Mick waited patiently in the hospital for things to start progressing. As I showered that morning I fought to fend off any negative thoughts and only thanked god, the angels and universe for helping me make it to Danielle and Mick in time.
My flight from LAX to Chicago went smoothly. Knowing that it had now been over 12 hours since her water broke, my prayers grew stronger that I make it time for the baby’s deliver. Danielle is now at 4 centimeters, and I feel hopeful. On the plane I notice my phone battery is low and can’t find my charger, I turned it off knowing I only need to text her once I land to tell her I am on the way. My hopeful heart hits a challenge when we get stuck on the tarmac in a holding pattern for what felt like FOREVER. Seriously I experienced the text book “stuck on a plane” adventure. Crying babies, angry people, frazzled flight attendants. At this point I have not had contact with my daughter in several hours, now at least 18 hours after water breaking. So, I began to vision her doing well, and how grateful I would be to see her and their new baby when I arrived. As I smiled and felt that joy the captain said we are up next and moments later we were in the air. The bumpy ride leads us to Pittsburgh where there is a pop up thunderstorm occurring right over the airport. Normally I would be in so much fear of the turbulence (seriously I am a white-knuckle flyer, crier and curser on occasions … frequently) but at this point I am thinking, come on captain hit the zone and fly through it, land this plan!!! I can see the lighting in the distance and start to feel again derailed from my dream. I pray and ask for a sign that everything will be as it is supposed to be. For now, though my dream was to be there for the birth of my granddaughter, I am grateful that I had made it to this point. I look out the window and notice that the plane is literally flying over the top of rainbows. Rainbows! Not just one, but I see the tops of five rainbows. It was an incredible sight that I hope I never forget. Thank you, thank you, thank you I say and smile with a knowing once again that everything will work out. On the ground at last, there is a glitch getting to the gate and I am stuck on the tarmac again a 10-minute wait. But the next hiccup in my adventure I could have never guessed would occur. I had no idea that the famous golf US Open was occurring near Pittsburgh that weekend, so when I went to rent a car (I was only 50 minutes away from my daughter at this point and so excited) only to be told that they were sold out!!! What! When do rental cars get sold out? I now understood why last night’s it took three hours of searching for a flight. The US Open. That did it, I teared up and let out a cry. Hopeful not look crazy I explained to the people at the counter that my daughter was giving birth and I wanted to make it there desperately. One gentleman looked at me with serious but calm stare and said, lady go get in a cab and tell them to drive! And I did. After warning the cab driver that I might cry during the drive and not to be afraid, I asked to borrow his phone charger, it had been hours since I sent or received any information from Danielle or Mick. It didn’t even dawn on me that he wouldn’t have a car charger, but he didn’t. With a 3% charge left, I text my son-in-law and let him know I was in a cab and on my way and turning my phone off soon. He texts me that Danielle is now at 8 centimeters and to call him when I get to the hospital. So normally this is a 20 to 30 minute drive that turned into a 40 minute drive as the exit we took was completely congested. I remember tears rolling down my face, asking again for a sign or help to stay positive. I decided I needed to just take in the view and look at the greenery. As I gazed up the lush green hill, joyfulness warmed me as I see a classic church steeple and cross on the hill. Thank you, thank you, thank you. The drive looks at me in the rearview mirror and points to the hospital my daughter is at. He then frowns a bit and tells me it will be at least 15 to 20 minutes to get there in this traffic. I remember thanking him and telling him “no worries, we got this.” This journey is now 22 hours post water breaking and I have nothing but faith to count on that I will make it in time. As we approach the hospital I turn my phone on and honestly, the moment it turned on Danielle was calling me, “mommy where are you?” “I am here!” I sprint to the hospital just in time to give hugs and kisses before the real bear down work began. I made it in time to tell my daughter “you’re doing great”, “your almost there”, “push harder” and then, “oh my god she is beautiful”. I was there to see Baby Neala literally wrap her dad by the finger. I am forever grateful to god, my husband, boss, daughter, son-in-law, baby Neala and all the angels that helped me be present for my fourth grandchild’s arrival.
I love you Neala ~ Nonna