James was alone in the pre-operation room, naked except for a thin hospital gown.
This would be his second cardiac surgery in three years. His first was a quadruple by-pass; this time it was to insert a plastic valve, through his arteries and into his heart, to replace his malfunctioning one.
James was alone and frightened . . . .
A male nurse walked in; said his name was Benjamin.
Severely near-sighted and without his eye-glasses, James could barely make out Benjamin’s face. All he saw was the blurry face of a man of an indeterminate race, wearing one of those shower caps that pre-op nurses wear, like this one below.
James replied: “I’m Catholic.”
Though baptized a Catholic when he was a child, James had never been much of a believer and left the Church decades ago. In the last few years, however, he began searching and groping. Finally, three weeks before his surgery, on St. Michael the Archangel’s feast day, although he still carried doubts, James finally took the leap, made his Confession, and reconciled himself with his Creator.
The next day, he received the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ in Holy Communion.
Back in the pre-op room, Benjamin said he was a lay Eucharistic Minister at a local parish. Then he asked if he could say a prayer with James.
James nodded yes. Holding James’ hand in his, Benjamin recited a beautiful, long prayer that James had never heard before, asking for God’s protection and blessing.
In all, Benjamin stayed with James for about 15 minutes.
When James awoke in ICU after his surgery, he quietly thanked God for being alive and felt a rush of gratitude at the kind pre-op nurse whose prayer had calmed his fears.
Three days later, James was released from the hospital and returned home. Later, he felt strong enough to call the hospital. He wanted to thank Benjamin for his kindness.
The hospital’s response: “We have no male pre-op nurses, nor is there a nurse named Benjamin in this hospital.”
Thinking back to the pre-op room and Benjamin’s blurry face, James is no longer sure it was a shower cap that he had seen on the nurse’s head.
It could well have been a halo . . . .
No evil shall befall you,
nor shall affliction come near your tent.
For to his angels he has commanded about you,
that they guard you in all your ways.
With their hands they shall support you,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.
James is my husband.