Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Bee still

It's amazing to me the way that an average, run-of-the-mill moment can careen into something so blindsidingly intense in a matter of moments. Those "I didn't see it coming" moments are what people describe after horrific car accidents, dramatic premature births and phone calls announcing that a loved one has gone to be with the Lord. These are the slow-motion seconds where our guts clench, our disbelief gives way and our cognitive self relinquishes the driver's seat to the raw emotions that we rarely ever expose to the light of day. We all live with the threat of these experiences hanging over our heads, but somehow, they seem far away. Just out of reach. Unable to touch us in our cozy little life bubbles.

Driving home from a post-church barbecue Sunday afternoon, I tasted the very real possibility of my bubble being burst. The sun was shining, my belly was full of a delicious Chinese Chicken Salad and the seven of us were happily performing a very ill-conceived version of "Jet" as we enjoyed the country road home. Everything was right with the world. Everything was perfect, actually. I reached over to Mr. Blandings and snagged his hand for a squeeze.

Which was, apparently, the cue for the trauma to begin. Through my open window, something tiny flew in and landed on my skirt. Before I brushed it away, I gave a cursory glance--a hard-earned habit, as you will soon see. There, agitated and dancing, was a bee.

For most of the population, an irritated bee is a nuisance, but not an emergency. For me, any stinging insect that carries a venom sac is a potential agent of death. I don't say this lightly and I'm not being dramatic. Unfortunately, I am among an elite (snicker, snicker) group of folks who enjoy anaphylactic shock when we have run-ins with bees. Over the years, I've been stung more times than I care to count; each reaction seems to be incrementally worse. I carry an EpiPen, but it doesn't stop my reaction. It buys me time, however. And time, in an anaphylactic incident, is precious.

So you see why that second it took to assess the situation was so important; because I live with the knowledge that a bug--any bug--is a potential danger, I don't rush to shake hands with them. Thus, I didn't give the angry little bugger a chance to insert stinger A into hand B.

But clearly, judging by the looks of him, the bee was searching for some way to make his displeasure known. He was crawling over my lap, dragging his stinging end and seeking some form of purchase, which was proving elusive. I had chosen a flowy, tiered peasant skirt from the closet that morning and the layers of ripply fabric were stymieing his attack. My heart did a sick, aching leap in my chest as I took stock of the situation:

Driving on the backroad.
All of the kids in the car.
Nowhere to pull over.
Miles from the hospital.

I squeezed Mr. Blandings hand and croaked that last word out to him. He immediately sat bolt upright. When you've had the privilege of slamming a needle loaded with adrenaline into your wife's thigh on more than one occasion, you take this kind of thing seriously.

"Where?" he asked, twisting the volume down on the stereo and bringing an instant stand-still to our happy party.

"My lap," I told him, trying not to move.

My mind had already gone to the bad place, of course. The scary place. The place where I begin to feel the hot spread of the poison as it makes its way to my throat. The place where I feel my vision slipping its hinges, where the faces of my babies float just beyond me, and Mr. Blandings' voice is a deep throb in another reality. The place where I would breathe water, fire, anything, anything ... just let my body cooperate, breathe, breathe, breathe ...

With my children watching, horrified, scared, fearful and completely out of control as their father hangs on with everything he has to their frail mother.

The place where stillness is absolutely absent.

Mr. Blandings squinted at my skirt, and then back at the road, unable to locate the offender in the maze of colors and patterns. The kids were, by now, wondering what was going on. Questions were making their way to the front of the Suburban.

And this is the absolute mystery of these slow-motion, heart-stopping moments: you are still very much alive. And function you must.

"There's a bee on Momma," I called back.

Dead silence. My children have waved to ambulances from bedroom windows after Momma has hung out with a bee. They have endured EpiPen training. They have carted trash to public cans on hot days to keep Momma safe. Bees, in their economy, can be very, very bad.

"Let's all just pray, o.k.?" I managed. Mr. Blandings was searching for a shoulder, a driveway, a ditch ... anything.

It was Atticus' voice, shaky but clear, that rose above the rapid thud of my heart.

"Dear Jesus, you made bees. And we like them very much. We like honey and we like flowers. But Jesus, we like Momma better. So please let Daddy find a place to pull over and let him open the door and let the bee fly away. I know you're gonna' do this, so I'm gonna' say thank you right now. Thank you for keeping the bee from stinging Momma, Jesus. Amen."

My heart resumed its normal pace. In the face of such faith, how could it not? I flipped through the rolodex of my mind and settled on this verse:
The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him,
and he delivers them. Psalm 34:7

The stillness reigned for long, interminable minutes. I repeated that verse like a mantra.

As if according to script, Atticus' prayer was suddenly realized. Mr. Blandings found a shoulder. He raced to the passenger door, flung it open and watched as the bee buzzed away. I sat up (when had I slouched down?) and smoothed my skirt, my hair. All five children began clapping.

We got back on the road and went home. With the windows up, of course.

I suppose my day could have ended the same way that it began, with those few minutes of fear leaving no trace of change in my heart. But I try hard to take my lessons where I find them. That night, in my prayer journal, I wrote this:

Thank you, Lord, for rescuing me. Let me never forget that you are the one who protects me and keeps me safe under your wing. Thank you for the prayers of my children and the peace you sent me. And Lord, thank you for the gift of that terrible moment. Why does it take fear to turn my heart most fully to you? Help me to cling to that quiet vulnerability, even when there are no bees on the horizon.


Mom Of E's said...


How scary! I'm so glad everything ended well. My mom also has those scary reactions to bee stings, and summer is not always a fun time for her.

I love how God reaches us in the most unlikely situations. Thanks for sharing your story.


Perky7 said...

My heart was racing as I read of your afternoon drive. Your son is blessed with wisdom beyond his years....a real gift. Scripture and prayer, a grounding in the storm. Have a joyous week!

Anonymous said...

Wow! So glad everything is okay. Scary.


G.L.H. said...

How beautiful! Isn't it so, so wonderful that God arranged this moment for you (to turn your attention to Him) and for your family. This will be one of your family's Ebenezer moments that they will talk about forever: "This was the time God answered Atticus's prayer and saved Momma."

There is no God like our God!
(and we praise the Lord with you that you are safe!)

Leah W said...

Amen, I am so glad you guys prayed!

Luke said...

Okay, I'll admit it: You made me cry.


Down my cheek.

So, so, so good.


And I'm glad you're okay too.


April said...

How Scary! Thank God for the beautiful and sincere prayers of His faithful and precious children!

EllaJac said...

Oh my goodness. So glad you're okay, and so glad you have such wonderful children. :)

My great-grandma had been stung by a bee and discovered she was deathly allergic to them. Doctors told her 'once more, and you're dead'. This before epi-pens, obviously. She was an avid gardener, and kept this information as her 'way out', should she ever decide she needed one (now, she was a woman of faith, unafraid of death. Took her children outdoors to sing together and bravely face going to Glory when War of the Worlds was aired over their farm radio). When she was 80-something she got stung again, and to her surprise she DIDN'T die on the spot; maybe all those years in between reset her tolerance or something...

And I think I just love Atticus.

Fatcat said...

Wow. Atticus's prayer made me cry. Beautiful. He has a way with words like his mom.

Traci said...

Atticus is a true blessing. His prayer was amazing. Glad you are safe MG!

homeschoolmom said...

what a wonderful testimony of God's protection and answer to prayer! your son's prayer for you demonstrates such a depth of faith. amazing!

Kim & Dave said...

Wow!!! MG, your story gave me chills!!!

The verse is one of my favorites!!!

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful story! Thank you for sharing and I'm sorry about the bee. But bless your son for his heart felt and trusting prayer.

~ Angi :) said...

Can I get my money back???

See, it was Luke's post that made me realize your blog hadn't come up in my reader (they rotate somehow?) and that I hadn't been by.

So, here I come, ready to embrace the moment. The emotion. The lesson. When ~ what should occur?

My **husband** begins talking to me and asking me 100 questions! AAAAaaaghhh!


So, I had to start over and re read - not once, but twice.

Love it, MG. But honestly, Gil stole the thunder. :sigh:


I love how the Lord was lifted up in this situation (and I'm oh. so. glad. you are a-ok!)

Sarah said...

So happy you lived through it and could tell us all about it. Great reminders, and teary eyes.

SaraJane said...

oh goodness, Mary Grace! what a beautiful story - precious moments, right there...

Karen (KayKay) said...

A scary and beautiful story. Thank you for sharing it.

Farm Fresh Jessica said...

Made me cry too! LOVE how your son can pray!! Well taught Mama.

Melody said...

Oh my, I'm in tears. Good is good, and I love that our kids can know this first hand.

Anonymous said...

wow. God is good. super good. thanks for sharing this; it's great to be reminded of His awesomeness in the face of our frailty. glad you are safe and well!

Anonymous said...

Let me just echo what everyone said: this is a beautiful and heartfelt post :) My husband sent me a link to your blog and this entry truly spoke to me and reminded me of God's unfailing mercy. God is so good! Praise God that I am also still alive to read this and to read your son's heart-warming prayer.

chamé said...

Let me just echo what everyone said: this is a beautiful and heartfelt post :) My husband sent me a link to your blog and this entry truly spoke to me and reminded me of God's unfailing mercy. God is so good! Praise God that I am also still alive to read this and to read your son's heart-warming prayer.

Grateful for Grace said...

This was beautiful. Found it via Luke's Sonlight blog. He said it made him cry. I wasn't feeling it until your son prayed and I started blubbering!

Please hug your son for me.

Thank you, LORD, for protecting MG. For drawing her closer to you through this.