For Christy and Kevin Beam, life was lived in the shadow of their middle daughter Annabel’s devastating illness.
Diagnosed with an incurable, life-threatening digestive disorder, little Annabel endured years of pain and invasive treatments before finally telling her heartbroken mother, ‘Mummy, I just want to go to Heaven with Jesus where there is no pain’. On a good day, when she felt well enough to play, Annabel fell through an opening high in a hollow tree and tumbled down inside it to the ground. What followed was a series of miracles that left Annabel’s parents overjoyed and medical specialists baffled.
Extract from the Prologue of Miracles from Heaven
When my husband and I settled down to start a family, we prayed for the ordinary miracles: healthy children, a peaceful home, a newish pickup truck with good AC and well-timed rain that fell plentifully on the flower beds but never on Friday night football. Our definition of paradise was a secluded plot of land outside Burleson, a small town in Texas.
We’re church-going people, Kevin and I, people of faith. We always believed in miracles, in theory. With God all things are possible, we’re told, and every once in a while, I’d hear about something that defies odds and brushes fears aside.
Now I’m holding a miracle in my hands.
The nurse hands me a computer printout, two pages listing all the medications my daughter was on last time I brought her to Boston Children’s Hospital – the time she told me she wanted to die and be with Jesus in Heaven, where there is no pain.
‘Three years ago?’ the nurse says, one eyebrow up. ‘Can that be right?’
That is right. The fact that it’s impossible doesn’t matter anymore.
‘So, Annabel,’ the nurse says, ‘looks like you’re twelve now.’
Anna nods enthusiastically, happy to be twelve, happy to be in Boston, happy to be alive. The nurse directs her to hop up on the scales.
‘While I get her vitals, could you please go over these?’ the nurse says to me, indicating the printout. ‘I need you to review for accuracy so I can update the computer. Just mark the ones she’s still taking.’
My eyes drift down the long list. It’s like looking at the surgical scar on Anna’s abdomen, just a pale white line now where she was stitched and reopened and stitched back together again. For a moment, the lengthy list blurs in front of my eyes. My God, what her little body went through.
I smile up at the nurse. ‘She’s not on any of these.’
‘You mean, not any of these?’ she says, indicating the first column with a pen.
‘No, I mean these.’ I hold up the two pages in my hands. ‘She’s not taking anything.’
‘Wow. Okay.’ She studies the list. ‘That’s really – wow – that’s…’
She doesn’t say it, but that’s okay. People generally feel more comfortable calling the small things coincidence or serendipity or luck. Doctors use words like spontaneous remission to explain away the big-time inexplicable. A while ago, I made the conscious choice to use the M-word. I didn’t always see God’s hand in the tangled threads of my life, but now I do. He was there in our beginning and every time our world fell apart. He’s with us now and into the unknowable future.
Standing in the light of all God has given us, in the light of all that’s happened, I can’t not tell you our story.