I still remember how tired and exhausted I was when I climbed into bed upon returning home from Mt. Sinai Hospital after Rob’s surgery on May 14, 2009. But, I wasn’t too tired as I lay there motionless . . . to count my blessings. My husband had made it through a very grave and risky operation and I was praising Jesus for using the hands of Dr. Kishore Iyer to save his life.
“Jesus, I Trust In You,” rolled off my lips as well, but something else was swirling around inside my head. They were the words “I am making of Rob a new man.” Words I had received interiorly as I prayed the rosary during the operation . . . Words that came to me during the fourth meditation of the luminous mysteries, the Transfiguration. Rob was in the process of being transfigured physically but the Holy Spirit seemed to be awakening in my thoughts something else that was birthing as well. I was so very tired and as I drifted off to sleep, I could only think of being at my husband’s bedside in the recovery room at the hospital the next day. I let go all thoughts of what “I am making of Rob a new man” truly meant.
Little did I realize what we were about to encounter in the recovery room upon seeing him the next morning. Giving both my sons a speech in the hallway of the hospital, I shared with them that it may not look like Dad, “Remember, he’s gone through a lot. Don’t let Dad see you are upset or display any kind of emotion!” I should have given myself that speech when I woke up that morning!!! My husband was intubated, which means inserting a tube into a person’s trachea for ventilation. I was horrified looking at Rob as I held back the burning tears that welled up in my eyes. Yet, my husband looked at us and gave us the thumbs up. He had battled through the surgery and he was going to keep battling through the hard ordeal of recuperation. I knew deeply that Jesus was supplying my husband with the strength, fortitude and perseverance that would be needed in the following days and months before he would be fully healed.
There were definitely rough days for Rob in the hospital but he came home on Memorial Day weekend. We continued to count our blessings through the many doctor visits, medications and ER visits. There was even another unplanned hospital stay, but Rob was a fighter and he continued to heal. We were still on that roller coaster strapped in for the ride of not knowing what each new day would bring. We all tried to have a very positive attitude and to encourage Rob on like cheerleaders at a football game!
I remember my husband’s birthday months later and the cards our sons would give him. Our oldest son Robby gave him one that said:
Happy Birthday to a guy who lives on the edge . . . of the sofa!
But followed it up with his own words . . . ”It’s just nice to know that you are anywhere!”
The youngest, Nick followed it up with a card to his Dad saying:
Know who loves when it’s your birthday? I do, because it celebrates you!
But followed it up with his own words . . . ”and the 59th birthday we all knew you would have!!”
Yes, we knew it fully well that my husband would make his 59th birthday because Jesus had given the words to me . . . “I am making of Rob a new man.”
What kind of man? My husband was known to be the most loving, kind and gentle husband and father!
What kind of man? Physically healed? The Holy Spirit was nudging me more aggressively with this question and I soon realized that Jesus was not only in the process of healing Rob physically but He was also healing him spiritually. Wasn’t this always something Jesus did as He walked the face of the earth? He never healed just physically . . . there was definitely always a spiritual healing. This seemed to be happening very slowly and beautifully before my very eyes, like the gentle rising of the Sun in my husband’s soul.
For 38 years I had been praying for my husband to turn back to church and the Sacraments on a weekly basis. Sure, he was present for the Baptisms of our two sons, Communion, Confirmation, Christmas and Easter, but I missed him worshipping beside me on Sundays. The ironic part of this story is that we met when we were 17 years old at a red traffic light, as we sat in two separate cars with other friends. As we were waiting for the green light, we managed to make plans to meet at a local hamburger place. Before the night ended, we all made plans to meet at Sunday Mass the next morning. To make a long story short, Rob and I met four years later at the altar rail of the same church to profess our vows in the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony. But somehow, I felt duped!!!! Wasn’t it our jobs as husband and wife to get each other to Heaven? One of the “team” was clearly missing at the “Big Game” every Sunday. Instead he was in front of the TV watching another sort of game . . . football! So I prayed and prayed for his conversion.
I returned to the Church where we were married to work as the secretary in the rectory for five years. Rob found himself sitting next to Bishops for luncheons and having conversations that I thought he would never enter into. After the rectory job, I found myself working in a Jesuit Retreat House for eight years, and it was there that Rob was surrounded! He found himself surrounded in his own home as well when two wonderful priests, Fr. Joe and Fr. Peter became our close friends. They flanked the fireplace like two rear guards in comfy chairs, and Rob would sit on the couch asking questions and goading them on, trying to trip them up in anyway that he could. As I sat next to him, it was very comical to witness because I guess I felt deep within that the “Hound of Heaven” was after my husband, and it was just a matter of time before Rob was caught.
Fr. Joe Costantino, S.J. would be the one that would catch the big fish while he visited Rob before his “big surgery.” “Come on Rob, when are you going to be ready?“ would be Fr. Joe’s question. Rob would defiantly answer that he wasn’t ready for “Confession” nor ready to receive the “Eucharist.” It just didn’t seem to be happening! Outside the hospital room, I would face Fr. Joe and we would both look at each other thinking the same thing, “When is this guy going to be ready?” In fact, the “big surgery” wasn’t even on the horizon. That question was posed to Rob at the hospital that could no longer help him. Everything was bleak, yet my husband wasn’t doing anything he felt he wasn’t ready or worthy of! But it seemed he was standing at the threshold of life and death to the rest of us.
In the “trusting,” the day did come! I received a phone call from Fr. Joe telling me he was at Rob’s bedside and “It had been done!” I remember being in tears once again and not really comprehending it. I actually brought the Eucharist to Rob at the hospital, and would bring Jesus home to him as he lay in bed so weak. Again, this was all before we met Dr. Iyer. I believe in my heart Rob was receiving Jesus to make him strong enough to survive what would take place at Mt. Sinai Hospital.
On April 19, 2009, as Rob lay in bed, he looked at me and said, “Anita, I want to go to Church with you today.” He didn’t know what special day it was but I could hardly contain my joy! It was Divine Mercy Sunday. . . Jesus I Trust In You! Rob didn’t have a clue it was such a big day on the Catholic Church’s calendar but all those who had been praying for him were not surprised because for they hoped and believed in those words: “Jesus, I Trust In You!”
There is no doubt in my mind that Jesus had a plan for my husband as He has for all of us. So many people were praying for Rob in the days when we thought there was no future for him, and that his life was coming to an end at that time. So many, many people were praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet for him. All that grace brought us to the threshold of Mt. Sinai Hospital and the consult meeting with Dr. Iyer. All that grace brought Rob through a life-giving surgery and new life.
His recuperation time lasted about a year, a year in which he was physically and spiritually healed. My husband shared with me that he knew he would always return to the Church and the Sacraments, and that he wanted to do it for me and his mother! Grace abounded in torrents! Rob was made a new man both spiritually and physically.
In 2010, we left the week after Divine Mercy Sunday for a three week drive down the East Coast to celebrate life, visiting friends, making random stops for sightseeing and just enjoying the gift that had been given to us in deep gratitude and joy.
One of the places we visited was Disneyland in Florida and as we exited an exhibit one day, I happened to look up to see a skywriter swirling letters in the sky. I immediately saw the letters. . .T R U. I looked at Rob and said, “He couldn’t be writing what I think he’s writing????” Yes! He was writing the following words in the blue skies of Disney!
U + GOD LOVE
You can view the “TRUST JESUS” taken in Disneyland
as the featured images on Part I and Part II
©Anita Guariglia 2018
Image by Anita Guariglia
Youtube: Trust in You: Psalm 33 – Michael Corsini