Two weeks ago, I had a dream that an old family friend and his wife from Costa Rica, now living in Missouri, came all the way to Corpus Christi to pay me a surprise visit. The dream was so vivid and I awoke with tears running down my face from the joy Willy and Zully brought me by their visit. I was young when they moved away and I haven’t seen them for years. They’re very special to my family and I but that wasn’t the reason their visit made me so happy in my dream. You see, a few years after they moved away, Willy himself had battled lymphoma (mantle cell), was close to death, and WON. He’d come to visit me in my dream to reassure me that I’d be ok and to be strong. After waking up, I figured I’d had this dream because I’d spoken to him and his wife on the phone a couple of days before and I very much value their spiritual advice. During that phone conversation, Willy gave me this bible verse in Chapter 1 of Joshua which had given him much solace during his battle:
9 Mira que te mando que te esfuerces y seas valiente; no temas ni desmayes porque Jehová tu Dios estará contigo en dondequiera que vayas.
9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.
He didn’t know it, but that was one of the verses my mother had always repeated to me in Spanish growing up. I love that verse. That conversation with them had really gotten to me since Willy knew exactly what I’m going through and Zully knew what our marriage was going through. After my parents, Willy and Zully are the most faithful and spiritually-connected people to God that I know.
I’m about to Quentin Tarantino this story. I started from the middle and now I’m gonna rewind to the beginning.
I’m about to reveal the fear I’ve been keeping a secret since I first received my diagnosis. I’d been harboring this fear for almost nine months. You could even say I was incubating it which is very ironic considering the fear. It had grabbed a hold of me and started growing like a weed; ugly and unwanted, and hard to get rid of. I’d kept this fear a secret from everyone, including my husband. I think I didn’t even want to admit it for fear of it coming true. Praying about it was done in silence, in my head. When my doctor in Houston reiterated to me that infertility after the high-dose chemo I was now facing was a very possible outcome, I became numb. I’d almost started to accept the fact that I would not be able to conceive. Almost.
Fast forward to two days ago, my parents informed me that Willy and Zully were driving to Corpus to visit me and spend Spring Break here in town. I’d already told my parents and my husband about my dream. I didn’t bother to ask my parents if they’d told Willy and Zully about my dream but I figured they had and that’s why they had decided to pay me a visit. In the meantime, my baby fever was growing by the day and so was my pain at the thought of possibly not being able to bear one. The Sunday morning of Willy and Zully’s impending arrival was baby dedication day at my church. Instead of baptizing our babies as in the Catholic church, we Protestants dedicate our children’s lives to the Lord and promise to raise them according to His word.
My cousin decided to dedicate her 3-month-old baby boy that morning and brought him dressed up in the cutest tuxedo suit with tails. Dressed to impress. I watched from the stage at my usual spot among the band as our pastor began to pray for him. Baby B smiled at him in a way I’ve never seen a baby that young smile at anybody. His gaze was fixated on Pastor Mike as if he knew what was happening and royally approved of it. My heart melted. A couple of hours later, we went out to lunch to celebrate as a family and Baby B was being passed around among all the women, doted on and hugged and kissed. It was soon my turn and although I was ecstatic to have this baby in my arms, it was bittersweet. He smiled at me with his double-dimples and I made him laugh when I nuzzled his little face over and over. As he cooed, I kept thinking, “I hope I can have one of you someday.”
Willy and Zully arrived at my house later that night with my parents along with their four teenage kids, only one of which I knew since they’d moved so long ago. After the standard hugs, how are you’s, and how have you been’s, we settled into our small living room. Zully began to tell us how she and Willy had been led by God to come see me and pray for me and they were merely being obedient to His will. They said that they felt an innate need to do this and that they made the decision to come about two weeks ago after our phone conversation. “Oh wow,” I said. “So my parents told you about my dream?” They looked at me like I was crazy and I looked at my parents, “You didn’t tell them?” My parents shook their heads no, “We haven’t spoken to them about anything; your aunt is the one who told us they were coming.” After my initial surprise, I proceeded to tell Willy and Zully how they’d visited me by surprise in my dream.
“That’s confirmation from God that we were supposed to come here,” Zully said. Of course, I was floored. I think we all were. But God does things BIG and He wasn’t done with the surprises. There was still that pesky secret fear I’d been dealing with and I had no idea I was about to be discovered. After giving me the words of wisdom and support I needed to hear and relate to, they asked to pray for my husband and I. Willy, Zully, their kids, and my parents encircled us and Willy began to pray aloud. Instead of praying for the usual like healing and strength, he began to prophesize that we would hear the laughter of children filling our home, not one child but ‘children’. He said that God wanted me to know that I would be a mother and for me not to be afraid. I was a broken heap at the sound of those words. I had not uttered a word of my fear to anybody, not even to God but He’d heard me anyway.
I was relieved, elated, and completely surprised of course. There it was. That was the surprise God had shown me in my dream. It wasn’t the visit that was going to be the surprise; it was the message He had sent them to give me that was the surprise. I’ve never once feared for my life since this ordeal began. I feared the process of getting to that point. I feared not being able to experience a baby in my womb and giving birth to the miracle that is new life. Now that the Lord was so merciful to tell me that the desire of my heart will come to fruition, the process doesn’t matter anymore. Chemo, needles, nausea, hair loss, stem cell transplant: its a small price to pay for the love of a child and I’ll do whatever it takes to get there.
When he was done praying, I confessed through sobs that I’d been keeping this fear a secret, telling not a soul, tucked away deep inside my heart. I told them that I hadn’t even expressed it to my husband whom I tell everything, even things we call TMI (too much information). Willy said he knew in his heart that that was what was instilling fear in me. I didn’t need to be afraid anymore. Us women tend to keep such things to ourselves sometimes in order to not upset our loved ones or “worry” them if we feel it unnecessary. We feel it’s our cross to bear and no one else’s all in an effort to save the people we love most from any grief.
Its no accident that Willy battled lymphoma before me and went through the same treatment I’m facing now. Its no accident that the people I regard so highly were precisely the ones to bring me the message God needed me to hear. To think that the Maker of the universe and the stars took the time to orchestrate all of this just for me, a mere speck in His universe, simply mystifies me. But I don’t need to understand it. Most of all, it lets me know just how much He loves me and that all this is to serve a greater purpose I’ve yet to see or understand. I am no longer afraid of what’s to come because I know who’s in charge and I’m so glad its not me. The Maker of the universe has got this.