By Diane Kramer Arenberg —
(Editor’s note: Diane was diagnosed with stage four pancreatic neuroendocrine cancer in January, 2015. She wrote the story below after her first round of intravenous chemotherapy. She also had an eight-hour surgery that removed her right liver lobe, gall bladder, spleen, the tail of her pancreas, and some of her lymph nodes. She is alive today, praising God for His faithfulness.)
Monday was not a banner day. I spent eight hours in the hospital only to find the port they installed for my chemo had a kink in it. The worst part of this was I had really psyched myself up for day one of the new chemo regimen and now I was leaving for home to prepare for another surgery to switch ports AND start the chemo, all in the same day. I’m a pretty cheerful person, but was having trouble with this turn of events.
As my friend Kyle and I were leaving for the hospital Tuesday morning, we opted to take a more scenic route to the hospital, which follows the Milwaukee River for a couple of miles.
No sooner had we turned the corner on the new route than a bird flew into our path. We were expecting the usual left to right death defying swoop, but what happened instead was this mourning dove did a right angle turn in the center of the windshield area and flew in FRONT of us, leading the way all down River Road to the next turn, from roughly 12 feet in front of the car. We were both amazed and uplifted by this contact with nature.
The surgery went great, and after chemo started, Kyle left to get lunch for us, stopping briefly to look at the hospital chapel. Being a non-denominational space for spiritual contemplation, she was greeted with a dove (stained glass window) over the altar. She could barely believe this new sighting!
With reporting to surgery at 6:45 am and not returning until around 3:30 pm, Tuesday was another long day, but heralded a much better feeling given the dove encounters. About now you are thinking, “Awesome, doesn’t get much better than this!” but hold on to your hats. The finale is coming….
We arrived home and my other angel through this ordeal, Sarah, arrived to walk my dog. Of the three of us in the house, I seemed to be the only person hearing a strange sound coming from somewhere in the front of the house, on the inside.
Kyle and Sarah started the search for the “flapping sound” and each of them did a thorough search of all possible rooms and found nothing. I told them I was sure it was a bird. They were sure it was the Vicodin talking! Sarah left after the dog walk and Kyle departed to pick up some things at Walgreens for me.
Now I was alone in the house, but the sound continued. I got off my duff and started looking for the source of the noise. The minute I would hear it, I’d go toward the sound and it would immediately stop. Then I heard it coming from the fireplace I never use except for once a year at Christmas. It houses a Yule log and some Mexican Jesus Candles (a little taste of New Mexico in our Wisconsin house.)
I opened the glass doors and sitting between the candles was another mourning dove, not scared in the least, just looking at me! I calmly told it to sit there a second while I opened the window to the living room.
Returning to my trapped visitor, I then got to live out a lifelong fantasy every little girl must have. I coddled the sweet thing in my hands, walked to the window, and gently opened my hands, performing the perfect bird release. It flew upwards and away from me. My only regret was Kyle and Sarah were not there to share the moment, mostly for vindication of my sanity.
Not only are the dove encounters amazing in and of themselves, the number three has
always held a great meaning for me. When I hear something of note, sometimes I have a tendency to gloss over it. The second time I hear it, it pricks my attention. The third time is usually God saying, “Listen up! I’m trying to get something across here!”
I now know I would be a fool to disregard a third notice. Tuesday I got the message loud and clear, “I am with you!”