I meet a lot of people through my work. Sometimes I do not have time to remember their faces, but their destinies do not leave me indifferent.
One day a woman was standing in front of me at our chapel. At first glance, she was ordinary and entirely unremarkable. Her eyes were full of tears.
“What’s the matter?” I asked her.
“Help me! My daughter has attempted to commit suicide.”
“She has just given birth to a baby, but it seems her boyfriend isn’t happy with that and they have broken up. She took an overdose, and was taken already dying by plane to the hospital. Now all her internal organs are failing. I am at a loss. Help me!”
I turned around and, pointing to the large Iveron Icon of the Mother of God, a copy of the one kept on Mt. Athos, I almost shouted:
“Fall before Her! Scream, cry out and beg with all your heart, with all your soul, and with every cell of your being so She will not let your child go to the other world! Even death itself is not so terrible for her now as her answer for such a death! You are her mother, and remember both at this moment and until the end of your life: There is nothing stronger than a mother’s prayer!”
She fell prostrate before the Iveron Icon, while I (understanding nothing at that moment except for the terrible fact: what would become of the poor young lady and her baby) began to implore the Most Pure Virgin for help. After a while, the woman rose from her knees and, nodding her head, went outside.
She left, and I was consoled as I recalled other such cases—the Lord would surely hear His Mother’s prayers, and the Mother of God never leaves anyone in trouble.
I don’t remember exactly how much time had passed, perhaps a week or two. One day the same woman (whose name I didn’t know) appeared before me again, and next to her was a young lady. I confess I did not immediately understand who she was. And when I heard that this was her daughter, I couldn’t believe her words and involuntarily exclaimed in surprise:
“Girl, what have you done! Why didn’t your maternal instinct kick in and act?”
At that moment I forgot that in my youth I myself had gone through the same pain of betrayal and an attempted suicide, despite having a little son.
She smiled in bewilderment and asked what she should do to rectify the situation and return home to the baby healthy. At that time she was already on hemodialysis. And this is a rather terrible thing—when your kidneys are failing and you depend on a machine for the rest of your life. Especially if you live in a remote village far from medical centers.
“Repent, repent, and again repent. Pray ardently, pray for the recovery of your soul and body for the sake of the baby, of your motherhood, and your own life. Take Communion to receive God's help and keep in your memory till the end of your life the One Who saved you and had mercy on you. And never, under any circumstances, forget this—and never betray Him.”
Every day she came to the chapel, venerating all the icons, weeping and praying for forgiveness. Without a doubt, the young lady came to realize what she had done, and tears streamed down her face incessantly.
After the young lady’s first confession and Communion her hemodialysis catheter was removed (as a rule, this is unrealistic after total kidney failure).
When she confessed her sins and took Communion for the second time, the same evening her temperature went back to normal and she was allowed to go home.
A happy young mother flew to the dearest person in her life—to her baby, who did not even suspect what a misfortune had almost killed his mother and nearly thrown her into the most terrible places of hell.
Whenever an inconsolable mother is standing in front of me, I first of all remember this story. It does not matter who is in the ICU—her son or daughter, a newly born baby or an adult. Believe me, it does not change the essence.