Susie was born in Washington D.C. to her loving parents. She remembers her childhood having been happy as the home was stable and, as she says, blessed. The father, after putting himself through school, became a successful dentist in Georgetown. Susie’s mother enjoyed her high level executive secretary work and would have continued unless Mr. Miller hadn’t insisted she stay home. He was from the South and believed that a woman’s place is at home to raise the children.
Susie remembers having been “daddy’s girl”. She adored and trusted him. When it was time for her to go to college, she expressed her interest in pursuing PE. She was quite athletic as her commitment to cheerleading proved both in high school and college. Father Miller, however, refused to pay for that dream and insisted that Susie study toward becoming a dental hygienist. Upon reflection, it seems that he had been right. Susie excelled in the chosen career, working for her father as well as other dental offices in the DMV area. She attributes her practical skill to her small and nimble hands and fingers. She was well-versed in theory as well. She was even invited to teach both dental hygienists and dentists on a university faculty!
At the tender age of 22, two months after graduating college and before ever embarking on that chosen career, something happened that changed her inside and out … forever. That summer back home had been care-free and fun, visiting with old friends, going to places, and enjoying the beach at her parents’ second home. On one ordinary night when Susie and her friend were out and about, a car appeared out of the blue at a high speed and sideswiped their vehicle. The side where Susan was sitting had been hit. The sudden, horrific accident totaled both cars. Susie was a mess. Besides the complete disaster of her face, she had severed her back in half and was bleeding internally, which lasted for five days. The diagnosis was very dire. Susie’s parents received the kind of call that all parents dread. They were told that their precious daughter might not survive the night. They should just go home and start planning a funeral for her.
Susie’s body was completely broken. She was placed in the unmonitored surgical ward of the hospital because the ICU was full with no beds available. During the course of the night, someone showed up by her bedside and whispered in her ear, “Susan, don’t stop fighting.” She wondered who this was and why she had been addressed as Susan. No one called her by that name. Curious, she thought, and drifted off to sleep.
The next morning, the priest was called in to administer her the last rites. She was on her way out of her body, dying. At that moment, Susie’s pain stops and she feels her soul, her core self, the I, lifting out of her body. She was suspended two feet up in the air above her mangled body. She was observing her physical self, studying it from her shoulders down to her feet. Suddenly, she felt being slowly pulled, horizontally about 10 feet away, toward a cliff where she knew was going to drop off into an abyss. It felt like hell was waiting for her, and it was awful, evil and utterly horrible.
At this perilous point, Susie felt God’s presence. He says, “You are here with me now”. Susie starts begging him for a second chance to live and for some way to get to heaven. She keeps pleading, “Please, give me a second chance. I don’t want to go to hell!” Without responding, God, who seemed to be on her left, transferred her into some kind of “cloud space”. He wanted to show her a few scenarios of her earthly life lived so far. Susie was now able to see herself through God’s eyes, from his perspective. In spite of there having been minor and major infractions, he did not seem judgemental. Susie did recognize herself as an arrogant, snoddy, manipulative and controlling person. She realized that her attitude toward people and her behavior toward them were most displeasing to God.
Then, she was brought back to the horizontal plane again. Susie’ begging continued, “Please, God, give me a second chance. I don’t want to go to hell.” As if she needed to explain herself more clearly to God, she gave him a list of why she should not die. She refuted,
- It isn’t my time.
- I don’t want to go to hell.
- I haven’t married yet.
- I haven’t had my children yet.
- I don’t have my red brick house on the farm.
This was her symbolic “spiritual raspberry”and hoped that evil could thus be deterred. In her heart of hearts, Susie was trying to manipulate God to get her own way. She demonstrated no humility let alone repentance for an existence on earth lived in a selfish and controlling way.
God had heard enough and would not allow her to speak any further. He took the lead in the dialog. Very slowly, clearly, and deliberately, he stated, “If you are sincere in what you ask, then I will grant you that wish.“ There was no doubt that God was in control and His will reigned supreme. “I am sincere,” she attempted in response. He silenced her again and repeated, “If you are sincere in what you ask, then I will grant you your wish.”
While the priest was still finishing the last rites, Susie came back into her wreck of a body. She had survived the night. She was finally transferred to ICU for the repair “projects” to begin. All of Susie’s teeth were loose and had to be wired together. Her jaw had moved down and was crushed. Her nose had been obliterated and had to be rebuilt by using a plastic heart valve. The left eyeball had slipped down to what would have been the cheekbone. All in all, it took 11 specialists to reconstruct just her face. The internal bleeding had stopped after five days in the hospital. The planned surgery was not needed after all. The doctors estimated that she might be able to go home in a wheelchair in January — if there was a miracle — five months after the accident. She would never walk again.
Susie’s mother stayed by her side every day. Her father would come immediately after work at 5:05 pm. Later, friends would line up and down the hall to visit her. One guest collapsed at her bedside due to the distress of actually seeing Susie; she looked scary in her hospitalized state.
Her orthopedic surgeon, who happened to be a friend of the family, gave her a list of seven physical tasks that she would need to complete in seven days to begin to regain her physical strength. She, for example, needed to pull herself up in bed, sit up, stand up, and so forth. Amazingly, Susie was able to complete one task each day and was finished with her “homework” within seven days, not seven weeks. She was completing the last task of walking with the help of a walker, she met her father in the hospital hallway at 5:05 when he walked in. Tears streamed down their faces. The impossible had happened within a week! The rate of her healing was a true miracle.
The tragic accident had been a life-changing experience. Having met God, Susie knew he had been involved in her miraculous recovery. Physically, she was being reconstructed to continue her normal life. With a cane, she returned to part time work in December. Perhaps her core strength had come from having been a cheerleader for all those years prior to the accident. Internally, Susie became less self-focused and more interested in others around her. She could feel this unexplainable love pouring out of her toward her neighbors. And, there was much more to come. Spiritually, the reconstruction was under way.
Susie went on to marry (twice). She had her children. Also, the red brick house on the farm became a reality. God did grant her wishes. The best of them was that Susie knew she had been spared from going to hell. Heaven remains within reach … still on that journey 50 years later.