When Maggie was three years old, she was invited to go to Lourdes, France with the Knights of Malta. The Knights of Malta is an organization of Catholic men and women (Dames) whose mission is to serve the poor and the sick. Every year the Knight of Malta take people on a pilgrimage to Lourdes to bathe in the healing waters.
For those of you who aren't familiar with Lourdes, it is a very sacred place for the Catholic Church. It is where the Blessed Mother appeared to Saint Bernadette several times over the course of a few weeks. Bernadette was a young girl but she convinced the local Bishops of the apparition and they built a huge cathedral. The waters of Lourdes are believed to have healing powers. People travel from all over the world to bathe in the waters of Lourdes. There are many miracles of healing associated with those who have visited Lourdes.
One doesn't really turn down an invitation to Lourdes. I mean, really, why would you? A week in the south of France having a once in a lifetime experience with the possibility of a miracle cure. Why yes, yes we will go and thank you very much.
When Maggie was little and did not have the trach and all of its required care, it was much easier to travel with her. She had a wheelchair, but she was just a tiny little girl what we could easily carry around. She sat in a car seat on the airplane and didn't require suctioning or oxygen or anything. We had never actually gone anywhere, though so this was -- well, a leap of faith, if you will. Maggie was very fragile, to be sure, but it was under control. I don't know if this is true in all of the chapters of the Knights of Malta, but many of the Knights and Dames from the Western part of the U.S. were doctors and nurses. That certainly made the decision to go a bit easier.
I know there are many who would scoff at the whole idea of this and that's your right. Faith comes in all different forms. It is as simple or as complex as an individual chooses to make it. Some believe unconditionally, others scoff at the tenets and beliefs relying on science. Many are somewhere in the middle.
The best example of this came from Tim, who was just six years old when Maggie and I took this trip. He knew the story of Lourdes but he had a lot of questions, as you might imagine. He wanted to make certain I was considering all angles of this matter. We sat down to talk about things before I left and we had this conversation:
Hey mom, you know how you are going to Lourdes to get a miracle?".
And you know how Lourdes is in France?
If Maggie gets a miracle and learns how to talk, will she only speak FRENCH? (Sub text - Maybe you should head to Cleveland for your miracle)
Really, an excellent question.
I just smiled and said, "Don't worry Tim, if that happens we will all learn French."
And really, we have all been speaking Maggie's language ever since.