Smells Like the Rain
A cold March wind danced around Dallas as the doctor walked into Diana Blessing’s small hospital room. It was the dead of night and she was still groggy from surgery. Her husband, David, held her as they braced themselves for the latest news.
That rainy afternoon, March 10, 1991, complications had forced Diana, only twenty-four weeks pregnant, to undergo emergency surgery. At twelve inches long and weighing only one pound, nine ounces, Danae Lu arrived by cesarean delivery.
They already knew she was perilously premature. Still, the doctor’s soft words dropped like bombs. “I don’t think she’s going to make it,” he said as kindly as he could. “There’s only a 10 percent chance she will live through the night. If by some slim chance she does make it, her future could be a very cruel one.” Numb with disbelief, David and Diana listened as the doctor described the devastating problems Danae could face if she survived.
She would probably never walk, or talk, or see. She would be prone to other catastrophic conditions from cerebral palsy to complete mental retardation, and on and on. Through the dark hours of morning as Danae held onto life by the thinnest thread, Diana slipped in and out of drugged sleep. But she was determined that their daughter would live to be a happy, healthy young girl. David, fully awake, knew he must confront his wife with the inevitable.
David told Diana that they needed to talk about funeral arrangements. But Diana said, “No, that is not going to happen. No way! I don’t care what the doctors say, Danae is not going to die. One day she will be just fine and she will be home with us.”
As if willed to live by Diana’s determination, Danae clung to life hour after hour. But as those first rainy days passed, a new agony set in for David and Diana. Because Danae’s underdeveloped nervous system was essentially “raw,” the least kiss or caress only intensified her discomfort, so they couldn’t even cradle their tiny baby. All they could do, as Danae struggled beneath the ultraviolet light, was to pray that God would stay close to their precious little girl.
At last, when Danae was two months old, her parents were able to hold her for the first time. Two months later, she went home from the hospital just as her mother predicted, even though doctors grimly warned that her chances of leading a normal life were almost zero.
Today, five years later, Danae is a petite but feisty young girl with glittering gray eyes and an unquenchable zest for life. She shows no sign of any mental or physical impairment. But that happy ending is not the end of the story.
One blistering summer afternoon in 1996 in Irving, Texas, Danae was sitting in her mother’s lap at the ball park where her brother’s baseball team was practicing. As always, Danae was busy chattering when she suddenly fell silent. Hugging her arms across her chest, Danae asked her mom, “Do you smell that?”
Smelling the air and detecting a thunderstorm approaching, Diana replied, “Yes, it smells like rain.”
Danae closed her eyes again and asked, “Do you smell that?”
Once again her mother replied, “Yes, I think we’re about to get wet, it smells like rain.”
Caught in the moment, Danae shook her head, patted her thin shoulder and loudly announced, “No, it smells like him. It smells like God when you lay your head on His chest.”
Tears blurred Diana’s eyes as Danae happily hopped down to play with the other children before the rain came. Her daughter’s words confirmed what Diana and the rest of the Blessing family had known all along. During those long days and nights of the first two months of her life, when her nerves were too sensitive to be touched, God was holding Danae on his chest, and it is His scent that she remembers so well.
– Nancy Miller