Humans of Canadian Memorial: Michelle

“I came to Canadian Memorial three years ago, after a crisis in my life. Six months earlier, my husband Paul had contracted a severe case of cerebral malaria after a trip to Africa. He was in a deep coma, with complete kidney failure, liver failure, and a very poor prognosis for recovery. We ended up taking him off life support, but then he started to improve a little bit, so we plugged him back in.

At that time, our son Micah was 2 ½ years old, so of course he had no idea what was going on, and I couldn’t really explain anything to him. He was just a little boy who needed his mom and a steady, normal life. He needed to go to the park and eat grilled cheese sandwiches and read bedtime stories, and I was so scared I just couldn’t do it. Suddenly, I was up against something that was way too big for me to handle, and it was the first time in my life that I just gave myself over to God and said “Help!”

And I felt it so clearly—this immediate “YES” from the universe. I could feel God’s arms around me, but not just around me, I could also feel God’s presence inside me. That was the first time I’d ever had that experience. I’d always believed that God lives in our hearts, but I hadn’t experienced it like that before. Because of that, I was able to cope and (hopefully) be a good mom at this time.

We were also blessed to have a lot of love and support from our family and friends, and it was the first time I’d ever had a whole community rallying around me like that. Suddenly I could feel the loving presence of God in the people around me, and in myself at the same time. It made me feel like I was a part of this great web of love all around me, which sounds a bit cheesy but I still don’t know how else to describe it.

Fast forward three years later, Paul ended up making an amazing recovery. He was in a coma for almost 2 months, in the hospital for 4 months, and then had round-the-clock nursing care for a few more months at home. He went from being unable to sit up on his own when he first came home from the hospital, to walking the dog at least an hour a day, riding a bike, driving a car, etc. To put that in perspective, for people in a coma as profound as Paul’s, it’s very rare for them to make any kind of meaningful recovery at all.

After all of that, I find that my way of relating to God has changed. I’m deeply committed to keeping God with me in my everyday life, and I want to be surrounded by people who actively believe in God and do something about it to help the world. I’ve found an extraordinarily open-minded, loving, and active congregation at Canadian Memorial. Here, I feel like I can connect with that web of love that I experienced and maintain that closeness to God that I felt when things were so difficult. It’s my favourite place to be on Sunday mornings!”