The following is an excerpt from a story I wrote about my little girl and a conversation we had:
My wife and I had been foster parents for a little over two years when the social worker came and asked us if we could go meet a little girl named Allie that was in the hospital in another part of the state. Allie was 4 months old. At that time she was the size of a new born infant, about 9 pounds.
Allie was a tough case to place. She had a central line in her leg with two IV’s feeding into it. She also had a feeding tube going directly into her stomach. Allie had never gone home from the hospital. She was born at thirty weeks and due to complications parts of her intestines stopped working. She had her first surgery at two weeks and they removed about seventy percent of her colon and small intestine. She ended up with a colostomy. Later she had another surgery to repair a blockage and then another to repair the colostomy. Several times she came close to dying.
We saw a little baby with no hope in her eyes. She cringed when we touched her and sudden noises made her cry. We talked and decided that God had brought us to this point for a reason. The more we visited her the more we fell in love.
Allie was very sick and the doctors believed that she would only live a few weeks after we removed her from the hospital. Even though the doctor gave her only a twenty percent chance to live, we decided to take a chance and took her home. We believed that our faith was stronger than twenty percent. Besides, if she only lived those two weeks at least she would know that someone loved her.
Within the next six months Allie went through two more surgeries for intestinal blockages due to scar tissue. The second surgery was only about five weeks after the first. The surgeon wasn’t sure if she was strong enough to make it through the second surgery. We prayed a lot during the surgery and she made it through, but after recovery we saw those same vacant eyes. It took a couple of days and she realized that we were still there. The spark that we grew to love quickly came back.
The next year went really well and Allie began to grow and catch-up both physically and intellectually. In November we adopted Allie, right after she turned two. We had a few set-backs, but all-in-all things were okay. Right before Christmas, we were reading a children’s book on the birth of Jesus. When the story came to the shepherds and the multitude of angels, there was a drawing of four angel children, a boy and three girls. Suddenly, Allie squealed, “Papa, that’s Jacob, and that’s Allie, and that’s Abbie and that’s Kira.” I was taken aback.
The rest of our conversation went something like this:
“What did you say?”
“Papa, that’s Jacob, and that’s Allie, and that’s Abbie and that’s Kira.”
“How do you know them?”
“I played with them.” She acted like I should know what she was talking about.
“When did you play with them?
“You know, Dad. When I was in heaven.”
Well, every time we read that Christmas book, I got the same reaction. “Look Papa, that’s Jacob, and that’s Allie, and that’s Abbie and that’s Kira.” I came to accept that this was going to happen. Suzanne and I talked about Allie’s and my conversation and she reminded me that our oldest daughter also had imaginary playmates. We kind of filed this in the backs of our minds.
A while back, maybe a year or two, Allie started a new Sunday school class and made a lot of friends. One is a little blonde-haired girl named Abbie. Abbie and Allie would have been about the same age, but Allie was born pre-mature and Abbie was full term. Recently, I asked Allie some questions that left me baffled. I asked, “Do you still talk with Jacob?” “Yes,” she replied. ”Do you still get to talk to Jacob’s friend, Abbie?” She replied, “I do.” “When?”, I asked. “At church,” she calmly replied.
A few days ago Suzanne spoke with Abbie’s mom at Bible study and told her what Allie had said about playing with Abbie in heaven. Her mom responded with a story about Abbie. It seems that during a conversation, Abbie told her mom that she had known Allie ever since they were babies. Her mom corrected her and said, “no, you’ve only known Allie since you were little, you were around two.” Abbie responded, “no, I’ve known Allie since we were babies.
Allie, now four and a half, says she still talks with Jacob. As for me, I try not to ask a lot of questions any more.
*** John E. Stack is the author of Cody’s Almost Trip to the Zoo and the soon to be released Cody’s Rescue Adventure at the Zoo.