My husband and I had just welcomed our third daughter into the world days earlier when I received a phone call that my younger brother was ill. At age 33, he was suffering from total and sudden kidney failure. He was hospitalized and may not make it another day.
My father and I raced to see him.
I wasn't prepared for my first experience in an intensive care unit. Jim had tubes and needles protruding everywhere. The prognosis wasn't good, and a physician advised his condition was terminal.
Back then, there were limits to visiting hours, and Dad and I were sent home around dinnertime. As soon as we stepped into the house, I could hear my young children playing in the family room. I could smell the dinner cooking. I heard the chatter of the television.
I stiffened. My heart was breaking.
Fear washed over me.
Dad and I paused in the foyer. Maybe it showed that I had no energy for the houseful of kids we were about to walk into. Maybe it was apparent I had no taste for the dinner we were about to eat. Maybe he knew how difficult it would be for us to lose our beloved Jim..
"Do you want to pray?" Dad asked. "I'm not good at making up prayers like some people, so how about we just say 3 Hail Mary's?"
He took my trembling hand and began to pray. "Hail Mary, full of grace..." During the second Hail Mary, I joined in the prayer. By the end of the third Hail Mary, a peace settled over us.
I'll never forget the change that took place as we prayed.
After that, we joined the rest of the family, enjoyed dinner, laughed at the toddler's antics and, despite heavy hearts, had a peaceful evening.
All because of 3 Hail Mary's.