The diagnosis is clear.
And so is the next step: Go to the hospital. Immediately.
A wave of Divine strength rushes over me. I don’t break down nor do I feel faint. I stand strong for my son. With His strength.
As I comfort my baby boy, I call my husband. I break the news to him. It is Friday morning, and he, of course, is at work. His response is calm, too. He must have received that same Wave. He would wrap things up and meet me there.
I call my mom, too, who is with my other children. Except for one who is at school.
And one who is with me. My 6yo girl. She was diagnosed with an ear infection moments before Joseph was diagnosed with RSV. She has to come with me. It is the only way. Because things are that serious.
Once I feed him and bundle him up on one of the coldest days of winter, we are on our way. A 20 minute drive or so.
Driving on the highway, I remember something. Our son has not been baptized yet. In a sudden moment, an immediacy takes over.
I call my husband again. “Greg, he hasn’t been baptized yet.”
“I’ll call Father,” is his reply.
We both knew that one of us could do it in an emergency. But there is something about letting our parish priest know that we’re in an emergency situation that gives us comfort.
In the waiting room. And then again in an ER room.
They give him a nebulizer, which seems to help. They run tests and take an X-ray.
The door opens, and I think it is a nurse, doctor or maybe my husband. But it is not. It is our associate pastor.
“We don’t like to take any chances with the babies,” he says. Consolation.
He tells me he can wait a bit for my husband, but he has to leave at a certain time. He has to go and bury someone. Life. The beginning here in the ER with my 5-week-old son. And the end at the cemetery with a woman who lived a long, beautiful life. He would experience the entire cycle in one day.
Just before another nebulizer treatment, Father suggests going ahead with the baptism.
Oh, how I wish Greg was here!
But I agree, of course. This is what Joseph needs. At this exact moment. And God has given us our priests to handle such important needs.
I bring him over to the little sink inside the ER room. I invite my daughter to join me. She walks over and stands close. Tall and brave through this entire ordeal.
Father, then, puts some warm water into a Dixie cup. And asks me what his middle name is.
“A good, strong name,” he replies.
I hold him over the little sink. And pouring the blessed water within the Dixie cup onto his tiny head, Father says, “Joseph Ignatius, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
And in that moment, he is created new. A new creation. A member of God’s family. His original sin is washed away. And the outpouring of grace begins.
Father leaves, and not two minutes later, my husband enters the tiny room.
“I met Father in the hallway,” he says with a tinge of sadness. “I missed it.”
But even with his sadness, Greg understands. His son needed the sacrament, and that need was far bigger than him being there. Even though the circumstances were not ideal. The guest list was too small. The clothes were not quite right. Joseph was now a baptized Christian. And that was the best thing that happened on that cold Friday in January. And without a doubt, receiving that sacrament aided in his physical healing. For that sanctifying grace is meant to heal. Praise be the Divine Physician!
I still sigh slightly when I think about not having a ceremony** in the church for Joseph. His dad, godparents and other family members were not able to witness such a celebration. What about the white gown that I wore, as well as my other children? I have no pictures of the big event for his scrapbook.
But I also feel peace and joy knowing that his story is so beautiful. A true testimony to Jesus’ desire to come to us, in whatever circumstance we face, and give us what we need: Himself. What a gift my son received that day!
And the humble beginning of his journey as a Christian is forever written on my heart. And he will know the beautiful, powerful transformation that took place for him that day. In the ER room.
(**Joseph will still receive the anointing of the oils of catechumens and chrism in a little celebration with us and his godparents!**)