Sunday, December 1, 2013

Angels Among Us

Newborn Julie and Mom
19 years ago tonight, I was at Pennsylvania Hospital awaiting the birth of Bouncing Baby Seyfried #5. Labor wasn't progressing, even after hours.of walking in center city in the bitter early December cold. Back in Oreland, my mom was amusing the other kids with a guessing game--boy or girl this time? While I badly wanted a sister for Rosie, with three boys already, I was prepared for another son. Which would have been fine had Steve and I been able to agree on a name. I thought Charlie was adorable; Steve wasn't so sure. His choice was Benedict, the name of one of his good friends in seminary. I was adamantly against this one (though I liked Ben himself), thinking only of probable nicknames for the poor little guy (Arnold! Eggs!) We had nearly arrived at a compromise monicker, Quinn, but were debating still when we decided to head home. Little Whatshisname was clearly not about to make an appearance today.

But as we cut through the hospital lobby en route to the parking lot, we bumped into the nurse who'd been there when I was examined in the morning. She took one look at me and said, "You really should go back upstairs and be examined again." She sounded so emphatic that we obeyed. And thank God we did, because that exam revealed the baby's heart rate was dangerously low. By the time I got settled in a room, full labor had kicked in and I was in agony. I don't want to think of what would've happened if we'd been on the Schuylkill Expressway at that moment.

After a tumultuous evening, shortly after 1 AM, Julie Claire arrived, safe and sound. Ever since, we've thought of that nurse as an angel, put into our path to make sure our precious child was OK.

I was thinking of Julie and angels again this week as she finally came home from her three month backpacking odyssey in Europe. I was so proud of her for attempting this feat, but worried all day, every day about her safety as she traveled through 11 countries alone. With only two minor negative incidents ( infected tonsils in Vienna and bedbugs in Nice) the whole trip, and many, many incidents of kind strangers who became friends, I concluded that Jules had an angel on her shoulder, making sure she was OK. Then I realized that these new friends WERE her angels, making her traveling world a safer and happier place.
Julie's banner

Do you believe in angels? Heavenly protectors who make sure we’re OK? It’s hard to square that, isn’t it, with the many, many people who suffer hardships, some beyond imagining? But I will say that we have the power to be angels for each other on this bumpy road called Life. Offering a helping hand, an encouraging word. A little love. We can do this.

Welcome home, my Julie. May you always be surrounded by angels, as you are an angel to me. 


  1. Elise, thank you for this reminder at this special time of year. Your story reminds me of one time when our car broke down when Elizabeth and Martin were quite little. A nice couple, owners of the local diner, stopped by to help us. It was their ONE day off of the year and they were on their way to a parade. They spent their day off helping us get our car fixed and taking us to a party at the parade. They were angels for sure. Thanks for slowing us down to remind us to be angels and to look for and appreciate angelic qualities in others.

  2. Thank you so much. Your story is great. There really are so many angels among us!