My husband found me sitting in a puddle of half a dozen broken eggs on the kitchen floor. “What happened?” he asked.
“I dropped them,” I said, sobbing. “Can’t you see?”
Todd threw up his hands. He’d tried to understand me, but he couldn’t. Six months pregnant, I overreacted to everything, sometimes bursting into tears for no apparent reason.
Todd and I had been high school sweethearts, and we were happy about our first baby, but we were only 20 years old. It was all too new and overwhelming. We both had full-time jobs, and Todd often worked late, so I was frequently at home alone. I’d always been a bit of a worrywart, and my pregnancy had increased my anxiety to the point of lunacy. Hard as I tried, I couldn’t seem to help it.
“Did I leave the coffee pot on?” I’d ask, running back into the house to check. “Is the front door locked?” I’d wonder in the middle of the night.
I worried all the time, especially about my baby. The media made things worse. Every television show I watched and every magazine I read seemed to highlight the very things that scared me. Premature birth. Sudden infant death syndrome. Birth defects. I peppered my doctor with questions during my regular checkups.
“Hormonal changes heighten feelings of anxiety,” he’d tell me. “Try to relax.” Easy for him to say, I thought. How could a woman enjoy being pregnant with all that could go wrong? Then one day his secretary pointed out the overdue balance on our bill. Todd and I made monthly payments, as much as we could afford. Why this? Why now? How many more things do I have to worry about?
Todd wasn’t home when I got there. I made some chocolate milk and put my feet up on the couch. Why couldn’t I relax? “Why?” I asked. “Please, God, why? I should be happy about the baby, but all I do is worry.”
I talked about everything—my baby’s health, my loneliness when Todd was gone, our jobs, the doctor bill—everything. “I’m afraid,” I said at last. “No one can help me but you.” I sighed with relief. I felt like a burden had been lifted from my shoulders. I was relaxed when Todd got home from work.
I drifted off to sleep that night feeling a bit less anxious, as if a blanket of calm had settled over me. Then something woke me. A man stood at my bedside. Why is Todd up? I wondered, rubbing my eyes. But it wasn’t Todd. In the moonlight filtering through the bedroom curtains I saw a man dressed in white. I was startled, but not afraid.
The man had short auburn hair and freckles sprinkled across his smooth face. Gentle warmth radiated from his eyes. He was young, about my age, but somehow seemed a hundred years older than me. I couldn’t stop looking at him, but I slowly reached under the covers to wake my sleeping husband. I wanted Todd to see him too.
I had the sense the man understood what I was thinking, because he looked at me with the hint of a smile. Todd didn’t budge. When I turned back, the man in white was gone. I tried telling Todd what I’d seen, but he only nodded and went back to sleep. I lay there for a while, thinking of my visitor, hoping he would return.
I thought of his smile, and my cheeks trembled with a smile of my own. I’m happy, I realized. God knew all my worries, all my fears. He had sent an angel to comfort me.
The next evening Grandma and Grandpa called. They had been discussing a gift for the baby and decided to send us a check instead. The amount was just what we needed to catch up on our doctor’s bill. The relief of this worry seemed to lessen all the others.
My baby is 17 now, one of two beautiful daughters Todd and I have been blessed with. Over the years worry has tried to creep back in. When it does, I think of the mirthful smile of the freckle-faced angel who stood by me one night long ago. I know he stands by me today.