Nomi is in the hospital ER. A white haired hospital chaplain is stroking her hair and Wendy is doing the same. I’m overwhelmed with the sights, sounds. The smells. It’s almost like a dream. When I got there, the life-flight nurses from Palmetto Health Richland had arrived, and were barking orders in a flurry of activity surrounding Nomi. We are at the head of the gurney, still stroking her hair. I’m not sure if I had fully comprehended the enormity of the situation, I may have been in shock. She was intubated, and as I leaned down to kiss her forehead I remember the smell of the rancid water in her sweet golden hair. I remember thinking that I couldn’t do it. I can’t. Bells. Alarms going off. Nurses rushing. Tubes. That smell. Wendy, standing as strong as she could. Glancing at the chaplan, then Wendy. Then Nomi.
Sometime after the accident, we got a FB message (I think. It may have been an e-mail) from one of the nurses asking who the stranger was. Tall older black man in a trench coat, with a straggly white beard and white hair. Arms lifted to heaven, tears streaming down his face. Crying out to heaven “for the baby”…
Skip forward. Months later. I’m having a conversation with one of our worship team musicians and I relate the “stranger story” to her, along with sharing what Wendy found on our visit to Naomi’s bedside after coming off life support. She’s visibly moved. She tells me her daughter saw an older black man in a trench coat loitering in front of a grocery store. He looked old, weatherbeaten. White hair. White unshaven beard. She gave him 5 dollars after offering some words of encouragement. She saw him again, several days later, and tried to give him more money. He told her “No. I won’t accept it. You have blessed me, and I am here to bless those that bless me.” She related that the man then told her he was an angel. She left him there, presumably so he could see just who would pass the test he had constructed. Many of you by now will be thinking that he was just an old black man in front of a store, collecting money from the generosity of others. Using religion and the beliefs of others to garner meal money for himself. Once upon a time I may have thought the same.
But here’s the thing: When Naomi was taken off life support, Wendy and I were in a hurry to go see her one morning after the nursing shift change. No one is allowed on the floor during shift changes and we were at Ronald McDonald House in Columbia, SC. We hurriedly pull into a parking space (up close too) and Wendy opens the door, and steps out of the car. Directly onto a five dollar bill.
Revelations 8:1 “Then I saw the seven angels who stand in the presence of God” … Nomi’s angel had been visiting. We believe it.