Posted by: Maryann McCullough | March 1, 2012

Story for March 2012



Maryann McCullough


  I thought and thought and thought about these words, the assigned topic for my writing group.

 I considered the big things, like staying, when going seemed an attractive choice, when the chasm-like difference between dating and marriage loomed large. I thought of little things, pickle relish in the tuna, nuts in the brownies, tolerating the talking heads on Fox. But the succession of examples of what I did for love was frankly, mundane and inconsequential.

It was my husband Bill (the principal beneficiary of most of those aforementioned loving actions) who suggested “What about the Colin incident?”  Then I remembered. Once, in my rather ordinary life, I made a miracle happen and it was something done for love.

Well, that’s how I see it. But you decide for yourselves.

Colin is our third son. Born seven years after the “Irish twins” (big brothers Mike and Casey), Colin was to be our child to savor.  

In the early spring of 1980 the five of us were living in Carefree, Arizona, a beautiful desert community north of Scottsdale. It was far enough from the city that javelina and coyotes made occasional visits to our home.  Our rural life had much going for it. However, hospitals, emergency rooms, and doctors’ offices were not part of that rural life

And this fact, on a beautiful day in the month of March became a major concern. Colin, at two and a half was struggling with recently-diagnosed asthma. In a matter of three days his prescription regimen had grown to a total of four medications in an attempt to alleviate his severe breathing problems. But in this case, more was not better. In addition to the asthma, vomiting and diarrhea were added to his symptoms. The combination led to extreme dehydration. Colin was a very sick little boy. And Bill and I were very frightened parents in need of a doctor. We headed for an emergency room some forty miles away.

By the time we arrived, Colin was too weak to walk or even stand. Bill carried him in and I dealt with the business of signing papers, showing insurance cards. I know (in hindsight) they gave us good attention. It was just that I wanted everyone to stop what they were doing and tend to our child.

Meanwhile, Colin, in a very weakened voice, was crying for water. Our requests to the nurse to please give him something to drink were met with a firm “No.” She explained that in his condition he would simply vomit it up, leaving him more dehydrated than he had been before the water.

And that’s when I (or, more correctly, my body) did do something pretty amazing. My breasts began to drip milk. I was wearing a silk blouse at the time.  Two small trickles of whitish liquid appeared and began to leak down the front of my shirt. Bill and I looked at each other, the looks of disbelief on each of our faces confirming the truth of what we saw.

I had never been “good” at nursing any of our sons. With Colin, I switched from breast to bottle-feeding at six weeks, two and a half years prior before this fear-filled trip to the emergency room.

So, what do you think?

Was it a miracle?  The thing is, it didn’t heal him. The IVs the doctors would give to Colin were the means of alleviating his severe dehydration. Did God get involved and make my breasts leak whatever it was they were leaking? With all respect to God, I don’t think so. I believe I made that “milk” happen. I believe it was something a mother did for love.

So that is my story. Most of what we do for love is pretty mundane. In truth, the ordinariness of what we do for love is its challenge. We love enough to donate a kidney, but sorting a laundry load of dark socks each week is another matter entirely.

The mystery of that event does replay in my head. I hope it goes in Colin’s as well. He should recall (if a bed day comes) the amazing kind of love he makes happen.



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