I don’t remember much of what happened next, but I vaguely recall being on the white ground and people walking by and asking if I was okay. Someone said they were going to call an ambulance and I remember a split second of being in an ambulance. Then I was at a hospital and someone was trying to give me an IV in my hand. I screamed and I think I punched the guy a few times, swearing and saying how much it hurt. I woke up eleven hours later.
After Sarah’s cheery texts and photos, another 48 hours would pass before I heard from her again.
During those torturous hours I struggled to stop telling God what to do to help Sarah. I had to cease my ‘if only you would’ and my ‘please do this’ and replace them with something else. My prayers gradually changed to outpourings of praise. I let my prayer warrior friends pray about the particulars.I learned to praise God rather than prod him to do my will. Click To Tweet
The church board members at our old church back in Montana had a special season of prayer for Sarah at their monthly board meeting. Due to her very public tirades, pretty much everyone in our circle of friends knew that something had happened to Sarah. But they, like us, didn’t know what it was or exactly how to help—so they offered the greatest gift a grieving parent can receive: prayer.
Sarah’s departure date for London loomed. Pedro and I discussed the probability of her facing an unexpected roadblock when she reached England—I felt certain that she wouldn’t make it through customs with a one-way ticket and no plan (or no logical plan to speak of). I remember having a difficult time with the customs officials when I purchased a one-way ticket to London thirty years earlier and planned on buying a connecting flight to Spain on my way to school in Sagunto. If I had problems back then, I couldn’t imagine British immigration letting her into the country now.
The day after hearing from Sarah, Pedro’s brother texted me and wanted to know if I knew which airport Sarah had chosen to take up residence in. I didn’t. She spoke about having a layover in New York, and her plan had been to ditch her grandparents during the layover. I did have a photo she texted me of some guys sleeping next to her luggage (she had asked them to watch it for her and they had all fallen asleep). I sent that photo to Pedro’s brother and he texted back immediately that he recognized the airport and was on his way from California to try to find her and convince her to come home.
Immediately a sense of peace flooded me. I hadn’t told God what to do, and he did the best thing possible. I felt that if Pedro or I had shown up, the situation would have been too volatile—but perhaps her favorite uncle could convince her to come home.
He texted me the next morning and asked if I had heard from Sarah—I hadn’t. I started praying and praising. About an hour later he texted me that he’d found her and that she planned on coming to the airport to meet him from the Holiday Inn. My mind threatened to whirl out of control with unanswered questions. Holiday Inn? How had she ended up in a motel? She didn’t have a debit card!
Sarah showed up to see Noel—drunk. She gave him a garbled explanation of why no one had heard from her in so long which included a tale of riding in an ambulance and sleeping in a hospital and then going to a hotel.
Her uncle explained to her that because she had shoplifted in Puerto Rico, she wouldn’t be able to leave the country until she was off probation (she received six months of probation). If she did leave, authorities would arrest her when she tried to reenter the country.
When I emailed my prayer warrior friends about the latest developments, one of them wrote back and said, “Oh Anita! I am so sorry. I woke up early Friday a.m. (around 3:30) and couldn’t fall back asleep for quite some time and I felt impressed to pray for Sarah, so I did.”
Once again, God had used someone else to pray for Sarah and to gift me with just the words I needed to hear at that moment.
All day I waited anxiously to hear back from either Sarah or her uncle. Finally, at 9:43 p.m., I received the most beautiful text from my brother-in-law: We are in San Francisco.
Sarah had agreed to return with her uncle. She hadn’t arrived home, but California and having her in the same time zone would make things so much easier (I hoped). Her aunt and uncle had agreed to let her stay with them while she figured things out. We all agreed that the new arrangement would only work if the four of us set boundaries for Sarah.
My sister-in-law agreed to watch Sarah 24/7. My brother–in-law made an appointment for Sarah to see a counselor the next afternoon. They blocked her from Internet usage for all but two hours of each day so that she wouldn’t continue living in her fantasy virtual world. We hoped the boundaries would help.
She slept eleven hours straight after arriving at her aunt and uncle’s house. When she woke up, she texted me with a picture of a sore she had near her lip.
Nah it ok now
How are you?
I’m doing well :). How about you?
Glad to be here
I wanted to go to freakinf Europe
I understand that you’re disappointed about Europe. What changed?
Noel says I can’t leave the country while I’m on probation
Or they will put me in jail when I get back
Is this true ?!!??
I don’t even care
Oh! That would be horrible!
I could get permission
But no idea how
Yes, I think it is. Do you remember what the judge said?
It is a judge in PR
Said nothing about his
I want to to
He may have assumed you knew what probation meant.
You have no idea
I know nothing about freaking jail and s**t
What the h***
Freaking oierto Rico
Father God, I lift Sarah up to you in prayer right now. She’s very angry and disappointed and really struggling. I pray that you help her to find peace. Help her to feel your love—you who love her so much more than I ever could. I pray this in Jesus’ name, amen.
I’m not dying here haha I am just
Thanks for he prayer
I like these written ones because I can pray them too
Later that afternoon, I texted her again.
You said you back/neck were hurting. Do they feel any better?
I hope so!
Not really p;
I’m glad it’s feeling better! I’m feeling much better, too. I’ve been riding dad’s stationary bike. I have to get I shape somehow!
And it’s too dark in the mornings to run, still.
I’ve been praying a lot today, and here’s another prayer for you: Dear Father God, most of all I ask today that you help Sarah learn to process her emotions. She loves so many people and so many people love her, but when she’s angry, hurt or upset she has a hard time knowing what to do. Please send someone to help her and guide her. Send your Holy Spirit to calm her and bring her peace. I ask in Jesus’ name, amen.
During her two hours of Internet each day, she managed to post a lot of negative stuff on Facebook and social media. Not quite as vitriolic as before, but clearly the rantings of a very angry person. By this time, many of her friends had contacted me and wondered what was going on with Sarah. I had no real explanation—but I asked for their prayers and requested that if they had a moment, that they send an encouraging message or card to Sarah.
I wondered how long her aunt an uncle would be able to put up with Sarah’s behavior. The murcurial nature of her texts kept me spinning, so I could only imagine how drained they must feel at the end of the day.
(Note to readers: This series is co-written by Sarah and me. She sees each post before it goes live and approves of the content).
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