A cold March wind danced around the dead of night in Dallas as the doctor walked into the hospital room of Diana Blessing. Still groggy from surgery, her husband David held her hand. That afternoon, complications had forced Diana, only 24-weeks pregnant, to undergo an emergency cesarean to deliver the couple’s new daughter, Danae Lu Blessing. At 12 inches long and weighing only one pound and nine ounces, they knew she was perilously premature. Still, the doctor’s soft words dropped like bombs. “I don’t think she’s going to make it,” he said. “There’s only a 10-percent chance she will live through the night, and even then, her future could be a very cruel one.”
Numb with disbelief, David and Diana listened as the doctor described the devastating problems Danae would likely face if she survived. She would never walk; she would never talk; she would probably be blind; she would certainly be prone to other catastrophic conditions from cerebral palsy to complete mental retardation; and on and on.
“No! No!” was all Diana could say. She and David with their 5 year-old son Dustin, had dreamed of the day they would become a family of four.
Now, in a matter of hours, that dream was slipping away. “David said that we needed to talk about making funeral arrangements,” Diana remembers, “I felt so bad for him because he was doing everything, trying to include me, but I just couldn’t listen.” I said, “No, that is not going to happen, no way! I don’t care what the doctors say. Danae is not going to die! One day she will be just fine, and she will be coming home with us!”
Danae clung to life with the help of every medical machine and marvel her miniature body could endure but as those first days passed, a new agony set in for David and Diana. Because Danae’s underdeveloped nervous system was essentially “raw,” the lightest kiss or caress only intensified her discomfort – so they couldn’t even cradle their tiny baby girl against their chests. All they could do was to pray that God would stay close to their precious little girl.
As the weeks went by, she slowly gained weight and strength. When Danae turned two months old, her parents were able to hold her. Two months later, though doctors continued to warn that her chances of survival-much less living a normal life-were next to zero, Danae went home, just as her mother had predicted.
Five years later, Danae is a petite but feisty young girl. She shows no signs of any mental or physical impairments. But this happy ending is far from the end of her story. One blistering summer afternoon, Danae was sitting in her mother’s lap watching her brother’s baseball team practice. As always, Danae was chattering non-stop with her mother. Hugging her arms across her chest, Danae asked, “Do you smell that?”
Detecting the approach of a thunderstorm, Diana replied, “Yes, it smells like rain.” Still caught in the moment, Danae shook her head, patted her thin shoulders with her small hands and loudly announced, “No, it smells like Him. It smells like God when you lay your head on His chest.”
Tears blurred Diana’s eyes as Danae then hopped down to play. Her daughter’s words confirmed what the Blessing family had known all along. During the first two months of life, when her nerves were too sensitive for them to touch her, God was holding Danae on His chest, and it is His loving scent that she remembers so well.
Will we be ever able to smell God as she did?