Angel in the Basement
By Judy Cosgrove
After months of waiting to close and lots of hard work remodeling, our retirement home in a nearby 55+ community was finally ready. This was our third home and we expect it to be the last in our 46 years of marriage. Hanging the family photo collage on the living room wall brought back wonderful memories of our previous homes. Our first was a row home in downtown West Chester, Pa., where we spent five years. Our second, where we lived for 41 years, was a suburban home surrounded by wonderful neighbors near our parish church. Along with raising three children and caring for three dogs and two cats, we were also fortunate to welcome two grandchildren into our lives during those years. It was a special memory now from this second home that I was focused on while studying my photo collage and realizing how quickly the years slipped by.
It started out as a typical Sunday in our suburban home that spring day in 1973. My two boys, Michael, age six, and Steven, age four, were in the yard playing with their new friends. My husband Bill was out for the afternoon, and my seven-month-old baby girl, Lisa, was happily rolling around the kitchen floor in her walker as I did some chores. This was such a happy time in my life with my young family, my husband, our new home in the suburbs, with so much to look forward to.
I was tidying up the first floor early in the afternoon and then went to the basement to gather trash from my laundry room. After that chore, I came up the steps, went through the kitchen, and then outside and around the garage to empty the trash. Just as I opened the trashcan lid, I was struck with a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach as a thought entered my mind. Did I remember to close the basement door before walking through the kitchen and outside? I quickly justified this terrifying feeling by saying to myself, “I would never have left that door open with Lisa in her walker!” I uttered a prayer, “Please God, if I did, send help for my baby”! My legs turned to jelly and fear was rampant within me as I walked back into the house to find baby and walker missing from my kitchen. Sure enough my worst fear was true; the basement door was wide open.
I stood at the basement doorway looking down the steps to the concrete floor, and there at the bottom was Lisa’s walker. But where was Lisa? I ran down the steps, turned the corner, and there in the middle of the floor was my baby girl—rather far from the stairs. She appeared to be in shock—chalk white—but other than that, she seemed perfectly okay. She wasn’t crying but whimpered instead. I felt so ashamed of myself as I carried her upstairs. I immediately called my pediatrician. He reassured me, saying, “She’s probably fine, but keep an eye on her to see how much she sleeps. It’s possible that she might have a concussion.” I made another call to my sister, a registered nurse, who lived nearby. She came over right away and shared my anguish and horror, but by the time she went home, she concluded, “I think she is fine.”
I made it through the rest of that Sunday chastising myself for the most careless thing I had ever done since becoming a mother! On the other hand, I realized something very special had taken place, which relieved my dreadful feelings. For my baby to land in the middle of the basement floor meant that she flew out of the walker as it fell down the steps. She must have gone airborne through the open handrail and dropped about six feet to the concrete floor, without even a throw rug to soften her landing. And yet, here she was, fine. How was that possible? My brief but heart-felt prayer had been answered.
During the days ahead, the horrible guilt subsided, and my baby continued to be fine and healthy. It was many years before I shared this story with anyone, for obvious reasons. I was reluctant to do so but yet was anxious to tell of the miracle that had taken place. Gratitude fills my heart now as I return to the present moment in my retirement home. Looking at the pictures in my collage of Lisa’s wedding, my son-in-law, and her two beautiful children, I’m no longer ashamed to tell this story. I know full well that none of this would have been possible without divine help on that day so long ago. I have come to believe that a very speedy angel caught my baby in mid-air and laid her softly on the concrete floor. There is no other possible explanation that comes into my mind after all these years. I often think of that Sunday and feel so special as I remember having my very own “angel in the basement.”
Judy Cosgrove is a spiritual seeker and long-time member of the A.R.E. A certified Asian body worker and graduate from the Meridian Institute in Wayne, Pa., she practiced Shiatsu and Tendino-Muscular Meridian work at a chiropractic center and a healing arts center, both in the West Chester, Pa. area. She retired from a career as an administrative assistant from a major corporation in the Philadelphia area. Following the death of her son Michael in 1992, she has been involved with “The Compassionate Friends” (TCF), a global support group for parents whose children have died. A volunteer, she leads workshops and writes articles on after death communication to help bereaved parents in their grief process. She has been married to husband Bill for 48 years, and is the proud mother of three children and two grandchildren.