The doctor I saw at the farmworker’s clinic told me to expect the worst. He said the reason you got tired and passed out at the warehouse is because you have a serious problem with your heart. Your heart is not built right and it backwashes some of the blood. So you made a blood clot that traveled from your heart to your brain and it’s gonna happen again and again. It’s called a stroke. There is really nothing we can do. So sad to say it, but you have to prepare to die. Any surgery would be too expensive and it might not work and you already had one of these strokes anyway. That’s what the doctor told me.
Well, I am at peace with my Maker so I understood my time had come. I was able to live almost 40 years and not all of it has been easy but God has been with me every step, even when I was beaten, hungry and scared. Even when I was so tired that I cried, still I found rest in God. And I was able to have a child later in life, after I had given up hope. The man didn’t stay with me, it turns out he tricked me. He had a wife back home, and then he got deported, but he left me a daughter. And for that I am grateful.
When that doctor told me to prepare to die, I explained to my girl as best I could that Mommy will not be able to stay with her until she is a grownup and God is probably going to take Mommy soon, so she will have to go live with her grandmother, whom she has never met. Because I don’t have any family here at all. Not even a cousin. She was wondering and scared, but she seemed to handle it fine, I thought. Then again she is awfully young – not even school age – so how do they handle change, let alone death? I don’t know. But she seemed to be okay. She hugged me and patted my back with her chubby little hand.
That night, while she was kneeling at the bedside and saying her prayers, I heard her say all the usual blessings like I’ve taught her. But after I tucked her in and lay down in my bed beside her, I heard her start to quietly cry with her pillow over her face and her voice was muffled but still I heard her whisper, “Father in Heaven, please do not take my Mommy. She is all I have in this world and I just can’t do without her! I really need her, God. Can you please, please wait a while? Please, Father in Heaven, please!”
I picked her up and I rocked and soothed her and she slept in my arms instead of on her little mattress beside me. The preschool teacher told us that she shouldn’t sleep with me in my bed, so she has her own mattress. But this was a special occasion and I had to keep her close. She fell right asleep and I lay awake for hours and hours. My heart was breaking to realize that even if I could handle and accept this, my little girl could not. So I had to try to stay alive, if God would let me. So I put it back into God’s hands to see if He would consider my daughter’s prayer. And I prayed. And I vowed to take all the steps I could myself, to see if God would open a path.
So I went to my boss the next day and I told him about my thing, and I showed him the paperwork from the farmworker’s clinic, and he read it aloud and he read to me that I have a Patent Foramen Ovale, and that means a hole in the heart. But he said he would help me to come see a heart surgeon here, at this specialty heart clinic in the big city. And I got an appointment, and I got a ride here, and I got an interpreter, and now this surgeon has changed my whole life. My whole life. Praise God, because nothing is done without God’s grace, God heard my daughter’s innocent plea, and found us this surgeon. He put this doctor in my path.
“This is totally fixable. It’s a very simple heart repair,” this surgeon told me. Imagine my surprise! “I have seen all your imaging and it will take me maybe 15 minutes to repair,” he told me. Like it was nothing at all.
“But I have to be honest, I don’t have the money for the surgery,” I told him. “I’m a simple farmworker with a child to support. I can make you payments. But I fear that even if I pay you a hundred dollars a month the rest of my life, I don’t think I could pay your full fee,” I told him.
He smiled at me, and I know it sounds weird but I saw God’s love in his eyes, and he asked me, “So how old are you and how many years have you worked?”
I told him, I said, “Well, I am 39 and I have worked 32 years in the fields, first on our own land, and then here in your state. Before that I went to school for one year, but then they needed me at home.”
“Wow,” he said. “We are about the same age but I have only been working as a fully trained heart surgeon for five years. And all the years that I have been studying, you have been working!”
“Well, that’s okay,” I told the surgeon, “Don’t feel bad about it, because God put you into your position, and God put me into mine. It’s okay,” I told him.
“Well,” he said, “Let’s get back to your case. Here’s my thought. You have worked 32 years already. You are not well enough to work now. But if I repair your heart, you’ll be healthy enough to work another 32 years, and so I consider you a good investment, and that is why I am going to do your surgery for free. And the hospital won’t charge you either, because they have a special fund for charity care for people like you who work hard for low pay, or are too sick to work. So don’t worry about the bill. Just wait here and you can see my scheduler, and we’ll get this set up. A simple surgery. The actual procedure will only take me fifteen minutes.” Then he patted my hand and left the room. And I sat there stunned.
A simple surgery! A good investment! My lips tremble to repeat it because my gratitude overwhelms me. A good investment! All I can say is that God must have thought so, too, because He let me live to see this day. Thank God that the surgery went well, and I am healing up and should be able to work again in a few weeks. Stronger than before. I will never stop praying for this very special surgeon and his family. And my boss. And all the others who have helped me. And I will do everything in my power to earn this new life. Soon I will be able to work again, with joyful steps. And God willing, I will be around to watch my daughter grow up. I am so fortunate, so blessed. What could be more beautiful?