December 27, 2022

More Than Friends

Treasuring friends who’ll stick closer than a brother/sister.

Marvene Thorpe-Baptiste

It was the middle of April, and I was very ill; in fact, my body was toxic, but I didn’t know. I’d received a phone call from my mom that Sunday morning inquiring about her week-old granddaughter and me. Because of a serious medical condition, she was unable to travel and be present for this birth, as we’d previously planned. 

I remember telling my mom that I was so cold my teeth were chattering, even though the heat was on. My husband was running errands, and I was alone with the 3-year-old and the baby. Instinctively Mom knew what was happening, but she quite calmly told me to get to the hospital as soon as possible. When my husband returned, he took one look at me and sprang into action. 

He first called Pearl, one of our friends, and asked her to babysit while he took me to the hospital. Upon arrival, with the necessary preliminary information obtained, an IV port was immediately started, and I was hooked up to some saline bags. With my temperature at 104 degrees Fahrenheit and rising, I was in pain and becoming delirious— but my battle had just begun.

The blood tests indicated sepsis: foreign bacteria had invaded my body, invariably during the birthing process, and I was rapidly being poisoned. The doctors immediately ordered antibiotics to be administered intravenously. The ultimate job was to get the temperature down and flush the deadly bacteria out of my system. 

I remember the nurse bringing in a small refrigerator with an assortment of juices, urging me to drink as much as I could 24/7, while still receiving fluids intravenously. Additionally, I had to pump and discard my breast milk because it was toxic. But what of the other job? Who would care for my babies? 

In stepped two precious angels of mercy, Pearl and Kay—two of the most beautiful, loving, and caring individuals one could ever find. At the time Pearl worked at Washington Adventist Hospital, and Kay was a speech pathology and audiology major at Howard University. These friends organized themselves so that one would stay with the babies at night and the other for the early part of the day, thus allowing my husband to keep his work schedule and briefly check in on me at the hospital. 

I recall the intense heartache I experienced while “visiting” with my little family through the hospital window and praying that God would spare my life so that I could care for them. Knowing that my friends were there greatly reduced my anxiety. They maintained this regimen, with all its challenges, deferring their personal obligations, for 10 days until I came home. 

Upon reflection, I know that we could never repay Aunt Pearl and Aunt Kay for their unselfish acts of love toward us at a critical time. I am, however, happy to record for posterity their special “love gift.” 

The Bible text says, “Greater love hath no [man/woman] than this, that a [man/ woman] lay down [his/her] life [take care of two babies, especially a newborn] for [his/her] friends” (John 15:13, KJV). Forever they’ll remain more than friends, for they are family!