This May, it will be five years since we went to Lourdes. By “we,” I mean my daughter, my son and myself. But “we” also includes the Knights and Dames of Malta (who sponsored our trip), a contingent of doctors and nurses and volunteers, a whole lotta sick people (referred to as “malades”) and their caregivers.
My seven-year-old daughter got to go because of her kidney failure and Chronic Kidney
disease. My 10-year-old son was selected due to having a whole list of annoying diagnoses, none lethal, but enough to burden him (and me!). I tagged along to take care of them, but I was also inflicted with some nameless condition beyond the usual stress and psychoses of a special-needs parent. In short, all three of us needed some degree of healing.
Seeking healing is a tricky thing. All three of us had prayed for it at home, had sought it in the healing sacraments of the Church (including my daughter’s premature confirmation in her hospital bed), and had a whole community of prayer warriors storming heaven for our sakes.
Flying thousands of miles across an ocean was kind of the last resort for us. If this wouldn’t heal us, what would? Going into it, I knew our healing wasn’t a guarantee. I knew God isn’t a vending machine, and I couldn’t punch in my order. I wasn’t expecting for us to be zapped with a miraculous, healing lightning bolt.When we arrived at the baths that day, I knew that I couldn’t stake my faith against whether God would choose to heal us or not. He would or he wouldn’t. I reminded myself, and my kids, that God didn’t even heal St. Bernadette Soubirous, who was afflicted with terrible asthma her whole life and died rather young in a great deal of pain. But I still knew that we had to ask, and we had to try.
We all went into our different bathing rooms, and prepared for our moment to walk to the end of the tub and dip into the Arctic-cold spring water. When the attendants asked me to pray before my dunk, I silently said to God, “I believe in you, and I love you, even if you don’t heal us.”
That’s as much as I could offer him then, and it’s still all I can say now, five years later.
Were we three healed of anything in Lourdes? Yes, and no. My daughter still has Chronic
Kidney Disease, but she’s functioning well and is steady. I was eventually diagnosed with
fibromyalgia, because I was given the grace to persist in seeking my healing.
I think my son had the biggest turnaround; it’s been a resurrection of sorts. Since our trip, he has providentially grown out of many of his diagnoses; so many, I sometimes forget he ever had them. Now he’s a healthier, livelier kid, with a very good chance of a promising future. So even if we still have some of our maladies, God is still good, and still loving. It may never be his will for us to be healed in this life. But he still wants us to keep asking for his help.
Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us!
Annamarie Adkins has been many things: world-traveling college student, restaurant reviewer, Catholic journalist, Catechesis of the Good Shepherd catechist, and most recently, a substitute teacher. She and her husband live with their four children in Saint Paul, Minn.