A true albeit incredible story of an angel's help in a time of need.
|Looking back, I'm not quite sure all these years later, whether or not my telephone counselor was, or rather, is an angel. Whatever her official angelic status, she was certainly an angel to me. I can recall distinctly the circumstances of, and the details surrounding, our first telephone conversation...
I was recently back home after an extended stay at a rehabilitation hospital following spinal cord surgery, which had left me paralyzed from the shoulders down for some months. Following several more months of intensive physical therapy, I also recently had returned to work.
Along with my family, (my husband, Walter, and my five-year-old son, Jeffrey), I was trying my hardest to get things back to normal, or as normal as I could. Which, I was finding, was not as easy as I had hoped or planned it would be. I was especially concerned that I do the right things for Jeffrey--he was so young and had been through so much already. I wanted to do the "right" things--I was just not sure what or how. This led to my phone call to the county mental health center, which happened to be located in my town, but on the opposite side of town from me. Without being able to drive yet, I would be unable to get to any appointments with a counselor, but I called anyway, ready for all the obstacles ahead.
I dialed the main telephone number, anticipating the endless rounds of being put on hold or transferred to "someone who can help" me. So, imagine my surprise, when after just a ring or two, a friendly voice answered. The conversation went like this:
"County Mental Health...can I help you?" said a warm, friendly voice.
"I hope so," I said, "I need to speak to someone about how I can help my little son." I didn't give too much detail, figuring that I would have to repeat it endless times, during the course of finding a counselor. I thought I'd save the facts for then.
"I can help you," said the voice, kindly. "Tell me your name."
"My name is Donna." I started off slowly, almost disbelieving that I could find help this quickly, without dialing even one extension, without being put on hold or transferred even one time.
"My name is Norma," came the reply.
"That's easy to remember--that's my mother's name." I was even more incredulous with each passing moment. It had never occurred to me that Norma didn't then, or in any of our subsequent phone conversations, ever given me her last name. She was simply "Norma".
I then told her the trials that my family and I had endured during the past year, and spoke quite plainly about the fact that my medical condition had improved, but was not anywhere near where I thought it should be, and that this was depressing me. I didn't want my fears to be placed on Jeffrey.
"I'm glad you called," Norma said. "You have been through a lot. I understand what you are saying about your spinal surgery--I am an RN."
Finally! Someone who was willing to not only HEAR me, but also willing to LISTEN to my words! Someone who could understand the emotional as well as the medical side to my concerns.
I remember Norma saying during that first call: "Remember that despite everything going on, you must stay steady and grounded for Jeffrey. Show him that you are working hard to get better for him AND for you. He loves you and needs you."
"Thank you, Norma, thank you for listening. I appreciate it SO very much!"
"You're welcome, Donna."
I hung up the phone, and thanked God that I had found such a warm, personable counselor with whom I found it easy to discuss things.
Over the next several months, there were more calls to Norma. They were filled with friendship, understanding and good advice for me. As I progressed, with Norma's help, the telephone calls became less frequent. But Norma was always close, even if only in my thoughts. She helped me just by doing that.
One moment that stands out in my mind is one day when I confessed to Norma that I couldn't understand how God had allowed this to happen to me and, as a result to my family, especially little Jeffrey. And, how guilty I felt for having those feelings. I was so confused!
I will never forget Norma's words to me that day: "Don't worry, Donna. God gets blamed for a lot of things. He is used to being blamed for things that happen on earth. He understands your frustration--and your anger, too."
I was so relieved to hear that! It was just what I needed to hear: that God understood me, that He wasn't angry at me. I was able to overcome those feelings eventually because of Norma's personal counsel. She was my friend and she sounded as though she knew just how God felt about me. That was all very positive to me, both at the time it happened, and even to this very day.
Then, the inevitable day came.
It had been a month or so since I had last spoken to Norma--the longest time that had elapsed between any of our phone calls. I wanted to call her to let her know I was still working hard and making progress in my therapy. As I made progress, my anxiety and depression were diminishing, just as Norma had told me they would. Having had someone to speak to was also a major factor in the decline of my concerns for Jeffrey. He was helping Walter and me cope, (mainly by being himself), and was growing into a sensitive little boy who liked to help people. Things looked brighter for my whole family.
I wanted Norma to know the full impact she had not only on me, but on Walter and little Jeffrey, as well. Her influence was nothing short of miraculous--just as miraculous as our initial telephone contact had been.
I dialed the number that linked me to the one person who had helped me without ever telling me her last name, someone who never charged me for her counsel, or for taking the time to listen to me. This time, however, Norma didn't answer. A new voice answered.
"County Mental Health...how can I help you?"
"Can I speak with Norma, please?"
"I'm sorry, but there is no Norma here. Is there a last name?"
"Uh, no. She never gave me her last name. But I've talked to her at this number several times."
"I'm sorry, there is no one by the name of Norma here, and there hasn't been, at least since I've been working here.."
I thanked the receptionist, and hung up the phone, a little confused, but more convinced than ever that Norma was truly an angel. I don't know for sure where she is, but she probably is helping someone else in need on the telephone this very minute.