Thursday, August 23, 2012

LIFE LESSONS: Guardian Angel

LIFE LESSONS: Guardian Angel
by Christine Clippinger

 March 1995 is a month that is burned into my memory. I was weeks away from completing my degree at Ohio State; I had done it in 2 ½ years while working, being a wife, and mothering 2 young children. Going to the emergency room at 2:00 a.m. was not in my plan.

Our 3-year-old was crying. Alex never cried. A wave of panic rose in me. He was obviously in severe pain, as his toddler’s body remained in the fetal position when we lifted him out of bed. Something was seriously wrong. Mike and I decided that I should stay home with our daughter while he took Alex to the hospital.

Not knowing what was happening for hours was bad enough; Mike’s phone call telling me that the doctors had sent him to Columbus Children’s Hospital was worse. Alex was in surgery to remove a ruptured appendix. I couldn’t get out the door quickly enough.

Engulfed by an enormous hospital bed, Alex looked fragile and pale. The tubes inserted into his tiny limbs frightened me. Nevertheless, I smiled at him and tried to act like everything was fine, even though I had been told that the peritonitis resulting from the rupture could kill our young son. Internally, I was overwhelmed with the worst fear a mother can experience.

Alex spent several days in the hospital, and each night, Mike and I took turns sleeping on the fold-down bed in Alex’s room. It was never a solid sleep. Every time a nurse came to check him, Alex, who was normally a happy child and not easily agitated, would begin crying and screaming that he did not want to be touched, and he wasn’t getting better. I felt helpless not knowing how to help my child. I prayed, crying out to God as I never had before. One night, exhausted, I fell asleep praying.

Later that night, I woke up abruptly. What time was it? What had woken me? I quickly surveyed the room. Alex was sleeping; all was quiet. Then, a nurse that I did not recognize entered the room and began walking toward Alex’s bed. I braced for the storm, and I warned her, “He’s going to make some noise.” She looked at me, and she smiled as if she knew something that I didn’t. This night, no storm came. Alex’s eyes opened, and he stared into the nurse’s face. To my surprise, his face bore the sweetest smile I had ever seen. Then I noticed her too; she was beautiful. Her soft, curly golden hair fell at her shoulders; I remember thinking that a nurse wearing her hair down was unusual.

“Everything is going to be okay,” she said, surely speaking to both of us. Her nametag said “Julia”, and her face, like her countenance, was incredibly tranquil and assuring. Alex never made a sound.

When the day nurse came in the morning, her surprise was obvious. “He’s so calm,” she said quietly, “and he’s doing much better.”

“It was the nurse from last night,” I said, “Julia.”

She looked at me quizzically.


That day, Alex’s body began to heal; a few days later, he was home with us again. During his last days at the hospital, I spent hours trying to find that nurse to be able to thank her, but nobody knew anyone named Julia.

When I recount this story, some people may think I was dreaming, but I know how real that night was. I know it the same way I know I am real, and the same way I know God is real. Today, I picture that Julia is Alex’s guardian angel, but perhaps she is mine. Either way, I know God sent an angel for both of us that night.


Christine Whitehead Clippinger is a former Navy Engineering Aid, Commercial Interior Designer, Homeschool Educator, and Decorative Painter from Springfield, MA. Christine currently enjoys studying the Bible, watercolor painting, photography, volunteering as a Budget Counselor for Hillcrest Transitional Housing, and being a student of life with an undeclared major. She currently resides in Kansas City, MO with Mike, her best friend and husband of 25 years, and Max, her enthralling cat of 11 years. Christine and Mike have two adult children, Chelsea and Alex.


  1. So, so beautiful! Thank you Christine for sharing this intimate story with the world!

  2. My sweet friend Christine..It brought back alot of memories when my son Chris was in ICU from injuries of a car accident, such an emotional memory in my life. I could feel the emotion in your words and the peace of encountering "Julia" in Alex's room. You have been blessed with many God given gifts, your artwork, your writing and your compassion.
    SallyAnne Trissel


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