” I saw them with my bodily eyes as clearly as I see you. And when they departed, I used to weep and wish they would take me with them.”
~ST. JOAN OF ARC
When Mother’s Day rolls around, Lynn Levitin of West Bloomfield, Michigan, enjoys every minute of it, for her path to maternity has been more anxious than most. She remembers all too clearly the irrational fear she began to exhibit almost at the start of her second pregnancy; she felt certain that something was very wrong.
“My doctor tried to reassure me that the baby and I were both fine, but there was nothing he could say or do that would put my mind at rest,” she says. There seemed to be no reason for her concern, so there was no logical way to combat it. Eventually, Lynn went through a normal delivery and gave birth to a healthy baby girl, and she hoped her strange fears had gone. But when little Alexandra was just ten days old, Lynn suddenly “knew” what her unease was all about. “As I was feeding her one night, I looked at our reflection in the mirror. There seemed to be a covering over her, like a gauzy white sheet. I took that vision as a warning-that although she appeared perfectly healthy, she needed medical attention immediately.
Lynn woke her husband, and he reluctantly took them to the hospital emergency room. “The ER staff were extremely kind and thorough, and they ran all kinds of tests, though they had nothing to go on because the baby appeared perfectly healthy. They finally sent me home with the reassurance that all was normal.” But Lynn’s overwhelming feelings of dread and unrest continued.
“Several days later, after talking to her pediatrician for the hundredth time, I took her to the ER of yet another hospital.” The same tests were administered, with the same results. Little Allie was as healthy as any baby could be. This time, however, Lynn refused to sign the discharge papers. “The baby is going to be ill very soon, and she needs to be here when it happens!” she insisted. One of the physicians slipped out to call for a psychiatrist. “Probably a postpartum-induced psychosis,” murmured another. But in the interim, they sent yet another doctor to see Allie.
After thoroughly examining her, he looked at Lynn. “I need you to tell me what is wrong with your daughter,” he said gently. At last! Someone who seemed to take her seriously! But what could she tell him? Lynn looked at the baby, and the baby looked right back. Their eyes locked for a moment, and suddenly Lynn knew. “You need to focus on her abdomen,” she said. “That’s where the problem is.” “Very well.” The doctor nodded. “We’ll do a CT scan tomorrow morning.””No! You have to do it now!” Lynn was adamant. “It’s very late in the day-” “Now!” Tears pricked her eyes. “I don’t think she’ll make it through the night.” Oddly, the doctor complied. Just a short time later, the results showed that Allie was filled with fluid and had peritonitis. Within an hour, she was in surgery, where physicians removed a portion of her colon. But they could not find the source of the peritonitis. “The doctor came out to talk to us, and he gently warned us that she might not live through the night,” Lynn says. “He explained that it was difficult enough operating on a healthy newborn, but Allie was so sick that her resistance was much lower. Yet somehow I knew she would be fine.”
Following a very lengthy hospital stay and recuperation tion period, baby Allie was discharged. “Watch over her closely for the first five years,” the doctors advised. Because they hadn’t found the cause of her illness, they could not be sure it wouldn’t return. However, to this day it remains a mystery. Alexandra developed well, and as she approached her second birthday, she started to talk. But her first word was not mama or dada. It was angel. As her verbal skills developed, she told her family that her angel’s name was Bummer, that he was a very tall man, at least eight feet, and seemed a playful person. “Frankly, I chalked it up to an imaginary friend,” Lynn says, “until odd things started happening in in the house. For example, one day I was looking for a book for my son. I turned the house upside down, but since Allie was only three, I didn’t include her in this search.” While Lynn was still looking, the toddler approached, carrying the book. “Here, Mommy,” she said, holding it out. “Bummer said you wanted this. He told me where it was.”
On several other occasions, Lynn would be in an adjacent room and hear Allie happily chattering away at Bummer. “One day I heard a deep male voice talking back to her,” Lynn says. “I ran into the next room, but she was alone. I thought I was hearing things, until the day my husband came to me and said he heard our daughter talking to someone, and a male voice responding.” And late one night Lynn was reading in her family room when she heard two sets of footsteps running across Allie’s hardwood floors just over her head, and the unmistakable sound of Allie’s giggling. “I couldn’t believe my two kids had gotten up and were playing so late,” Lynn says. But as she reached the upstairs landing she saw her son in his bedroom, fast asleep. Allie, however, was just jumping into her bed, still laughing. “Allie, what are you up to?” Lynn asked. “Bummer and I were playing, Mommy,” Allie reported, “but he told me it was time to go to bed now.” There had been two sets of footsteps, Lynn knew for sure. “We learned to leave her alone during these times, and we respected her visits with Bummer.” Time passed, and one day the family was vacationing in Florida. Allie awakened suddenly, in tears. “Honey, what’s the matter?” Lynn asked in alarm. “It’s Bummer,” Allie sobbed. “He says it’s time for him to go. He’ll always be close by, but …” “Where did Bummer say he was going?” Lynn asked. Allie pointed to the sky. Had it been a dream? No, the little girl was inconsolable, too upset to be comforted. Lynn could only try to distract her. “Don’t be sad, honey,” she said. “Remember, you’re turning five tomorrow, and we’re going to have a wonderful party for you with cake and presents-” And then Lynn remembered. The doctors had told her that her daughter would need to be “watched” for the first five years of her life. And so Allie had been watched, more closely and tenderly than any of them had ever suspected.
Bummer reappeared a few times during that next year, perhaps to ease Allie’s sadness over their separation, and he seems to be quite near the family even now, for Lynn has learned to sense a certain presence. As is typical with children who have these mystical experiences, Allie, now fifteen, remembers Bummer as if in a dream rather than as an actual being. But Lynn knows that he was real. “Many angels probably helped me through that difficult time,” she says. “I know they understand how grateful I am.”