I met Claire (not her real name) when I met with a business group at a local coffee shop. When the meeting was over, Claire casually mentioned she’s recovering from two debilitating diseases (Lyme and Chron’s diseases) and they have taken their toll on her body for nearly two decades: not being able to get out of the bed for months on end, a neighbor repeatedly finding her sprawled on the floor where she had fallen, not driving for five years, and, worst of all, almost total loss of her memory. Then she told me about her miraculous healing.
I was fascinated to hear her story. My enthrallment increased because I had started a book on prayer, and I was petitioning to have people with interesting prayer stories identify themselves to me. Actually, two people identified themselves on the same Saturday, a minor miracle itself. I’ll tell you about the other amazing recovery from cancer in the near future.
I knew that Claire and I did not have time then to chat, so I invited the small, 50-ish woman to meet me for coffee the following week. This story poured out as Claire, dressed stylishly in jeans with the knees out, a white sleeveless top, and tear-drop earring that moved back and forth as she shook her head.
Formerly an executive with a company that included frequent travel, she was forced to live on disability. “I hated sitting still and not working,” she said as we sat at a small, rectangular table in the empty children’s section of the coffee shop. The privacy of being hidden by bookshelves allowed us to talk freely.
A native of a mid-western village of about 500, “I finally decided to leave,” she says. Then Claire, who has other past traumas, explained what it was like for a friend she had worked with two years earlier to try to give her a hug, only to have her recoil in fear because she didn’t know who was a friend and who was trying to hurt her. “I started shaking and crying,” she said. Then, the hurt expression on that his face asking; “How can you not know me? I could see how much it hurt him.” The woman who used to do math calculations in her head and a normal recall of people and places, could not remember much besides her parents, who took control of her life, including her financial affairs.
Finally, she recalls, the pain, fear, anguish became too strong and sitting on her bed, she took a handful of pills, narcotics, painkiller and whatever else she could find in a suicide attempt. Reds, yellows and other colors of the rainbow, from a nearby nightstand.
When I lie down I say,
‘When shall I arise [and the night be gone]?’
But the night continues,
And I am continually tossing until the dawning of day, Job 7:4 (Amplified Bible)
She remembers, like an out-of-body experience, the ambulance squad responding. Hearing a paramedic asking: ‘Who’s going to tell her dad?” Smelling the strong odor of tobacco on the breath a female EMT. And plans to take her body to a nearby funeral home. “They all were crying.” It was a town where everyone knew each other.
Then the strangest thing happened. She woke up. She looked around the bedroom, and the pills–every one— was laying on a table across the room! How’d they get there? She says that a pile of books, her Shih-Tzu dog, and other stuff on her bed did not allow her to simply reach over to the table. Even if they had not, because of the queen-sized bed, it was too far to reach.
She was dazed and angry. “Why God,” she asked, “did I wake up?”
What happened to the ambulance crew? Were they there?
How could it be? She remembered taking the pills, putting them in her mouth, swallowing them. The bitter taste.
Did she really take them? Was it a just a vivid dream? Did God spiritually intervene?
Claire, who describes herself now as “a real strong believer,” thinks it was God, and so do I. He may have been telling her it was not the time for death. That she is needed here. Or that He has other plans for her life. Claire would tell a skeptic, “You can take it for what its worth, but I took those pills.”
Not a Christian at the time, Claire decided some things needed to change. She met a personal trainer who led her to faith in Christ. Now, she describes herself as a “seer,” who believes in supernatural things. “I go out with the expectation of seeing God’s work every day.” She calls them “God bumps–what we might call goosebumps–describing God work. “Whenever I share about God’s mercy and blessings, I don’t want to call them goosebumps,” like the bumps on your arms that might be caused by a scary situation.
Part of the change was getting away from people who knew her but she didn’t know and moving to a seaside Atlantic Ocean town.
Since then, Claire has founded a nonprofit organization that promotes awareness of Lyme Disease, adopted a daughter, and started her life again. All of which, lest to say, would not have been possible if the suicide attempt had been successful.
She frequently walks and takes pictures on the nearby beach. Nearing the one-year anniversary of moving with her daughter–Claire shows a picture of the teenager standing at the water’s edge, silhouetted against the rising morning sun. The girl has her hands raised above her head like a football referee signaling a score. It is symbolic of their new North Carolina life. It is a tale of a Job-like transformation from despair to triumph, as Claire continues to walk with God.