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Chester (10/31/20)

I was born a normal kid, normal family, average intelligence, no special sports talents, though I loved to play soccer. Unlike many of my friends, my parents were still together, and both sets of my grandparents were alive and together. Everything was pretty vanilla!

As I was growing up, my grandmother on my mom's side always said I was special, and one day I would understand exactly how special I was. As a kid, I just thought that was what grandmothers said, so she was always my favorite!

My first experience with anything out of the ordinary was when I was 10. Even though I got along with all the kids in my school, and really, all of the adults too, I really was an animal person. I loved all animals, insects, pretty much anything living. I especially had a propensity for dogs - I loved them, and all of them loved me.

It was common for dogs that I passed to come running my direction for attention and to play, regardless of how ferocious their owners claimed they were. Me and dogs just got along really well.

So it was a horrifying event on day when I was 10, out in the front yard of the house, and this adorable little dog came running my direction. At the same time a car was going down the street, and in a moment of terror, the car hit the little dog, and it rolled several times my direction yelping in pain. As it laid there I waited for it to get up, hoping that I had not just seen the poor puppy killed, but as I got closer it was obvious he was really badly hurt.

Barely moving, he wouldn't even wag his little tail as I talked to him. Before I could even brush the tears from my face, I scooped up the body of the little puppy and ran as fast as I could into my room.

I put his limp body on a blanket and pillow on the floor, looking into his eyes for any sign of life. Happily I got a bit of a smile from him, and his tail wagged just a bit. I was so relieved that he was not dead. I went into the kitchen, got some water, and a few pieces of hamburger and brought it back to him. Though he sniffed the hamburger, he would not eat, but did slurp up a couple drops of water.

Then I started to cry, so afraid that his sad eyes looking at me might not stay open for much longer. Our family was extremely poor, so I knew if I told my parents what had happened, they could not afford to take him to the vet, so I wrapped him up a little tighter, patted him on the head until he fell asleep. I knew he was sleeping because I could feel the air coming out of his nose, and I put my ear to his chest and could hear his little heart beating like crazy.

After a few minutes, I crawled into bed, saddened by the fact that I fully expected him to be dead in the morning. I was thinking about where I would bury him so he could be at peace. I finally cried myself to sleep.

The next morning I woke with a startle, and turned my head to see the little puppy that I had rescued the day before standing on my bed, jumping up and down, with the biggest smile on his face that I had ever seen in a dog. Again I started crying, purely out of joy, and grabbed him, hugged him, wondering how he had recovered enough to be able to jump up onto my bed.

I got up, ran out into the kitchen with my new pup, and told my parents I had found him out wandering the street, and begged that I could keep him. After being asked where he came from, and if he had a collar or any identification on whose dog he was, my parents allowed me to keep him.

I was so happy. I didn't say anything to them about him being hit by a car the day before. When my favorite grandmother came over and saw the pup, all she said was we now had a special dog for a special boy. It was like she knew what had happened, but she couldn't have.

I named him Chester!

Years later when I was 16 I had just stepped off the bus coming from school, walked into the house, and both my parents were home, looking quite sad. I immediately knew something was up because both of them normally worked and wouldn't have been home for several hours. Normally I would come home, Chester meeting me at the door, chase Chester around the back yard, give him his treats, do my homework, then get dinner ready for my parents when they got home from work.

Today Chester just came up and sat on my foot, with those sad puppy eyes I had seen the day I first got him. He knew we were all sad and was sad with us. My parents told me that my favorite grandmother had taken a serious fall and had broken several bones, including her hip. She was in the ICU of the local hospital.

I had to see her. My parents said she had asked for me when she was taken to the hospital, and my parents were waiting for me to get home so we could all go down and visit, or at least say hello so she knew we were there.

When we got to the hospital, they told us she was hurt really bad, and that we could visit, but only for a few minutes because she had to rest. As we walked into the room, she said my name and moved her hand out to grab mine. I held her hand tightly, fearing I might lose her. She said she was really tired and needed to sleep, but had to see her favorite grandson. She released her grip on my hand, and fell asleep. As we left the hospital, I felt a pit in the middle of my stomach, fearing that had been the last I had seen of my favorite grandmother.

Early the next morning as I was getting ready to sadly leave for school, the phone rang, and I could hear my mother exasperated on the phone, asking the person calling if they had the right number. Finally she said she would be right there.

My mom looked at me, told me I wasn't going to school that day, we both finished getting ready, and off we went. My mom called my dad and said we were headed to the hospital. In amazement, she told him that the nurse had told her that my grandmother was fine, and wanted to go home.

We got to the hospital, went in, and there she was, sitting in a wheelchair next to the nurses station, looking like nothing had ever happened. She was more embarrassed that she was in public in her bathrobe.

The surgeon pulled us aside, and looked completely shocked. He said he had no idea what had happened, but that a few minutes earlier, she had pushed the button in her room asking if she could go home. No pain, no broken bones, no broken hip. Even the black and blue bruises that had been on her arms, forehead, and face were gone.

As a precaution, they encouraged her to stay long enough to get X-rays, which only confirmed there were no broken bones whatsoever. The doctor just shook his head, said if there had ever been a miracle this was it, signed her release form, and grandmom got up and walked with us out to the car.

We were so emotional. Just 12 hours earlier we thought she might die, and now my mom was calling my dad saying grandmother was perfectly fine and was coming home. I could hear my dad on the phone asking if she was kidding. No, grandmother was in the car, wanted to get home so she could change out of her bathrobe!

In one of those moments where emotion just takes over what you say, I told my grandmother she was just like Chester. That got a perplexed look from my mom, but my grandmother just smiled.

It was like she knew something about Chester the rest of them didn't.

One final incident changed the way I started thinking about things. I was almost 18, senior grad night party had just ended, and several carloads of us kids were caravanning home from the party. Driving a little faster than we should have been driving, one of the cars lost control on a turn, and flew off the road.

As we stopped we could see smoke, and we backed up as fast as possible to where the car was. All I could remember is jumping out of our car, running to the overturned car and grabbing anybody I could grab. I managed to help pull all three of my friends out of the car, but they were all pretty messed up, blood dripping from heads and faces, scratches on arms, and two of them saying they couldn't walk, the pain was so bad in their legs.

It seemed like an eternity before paramedics arrived, got all three of them on gurneys and into the ambulance, and off they went to the hospital.

I got home and told my parents what had happened. They were so happy I was safe, and were so proud I had helped get all three kids out of the car.

The next morning, even though it was a Saturday and it had been a long, late night, I couldn't sleep in, and drove over to the hospital to get as much information on my friends as I could.

I arrived at a waiting room of extremely emotional parents, who all came up to hug me when I walked in. I don't know how many times I was thanked for saving their kids.

How is everybody doing? I was assuming at that point everybody was at least alive and not permanently injured. One of my friends' moms, tears pouring down her face, said her daughter was perfectly fine and was ready to be released to go home. She said, as she began sobbing uncontrollably, that all three of my friends were fine and ready to go home.

Even though I was totally happy that my friends were all fine, I couldn't control my emotions, and ran out of the hospital. Though crying profusely, I wasn't crying out of grief, nor this time out of happiness. I was crying because I was so damn confused. This was now the third time since I was 10 that a serious accident had happened that I was associated with, where I could have sworn the night before someone could have died, and everything was fine the next day.

I couldn't understand what was going on, couldn't understand what was happening, couldn't understand how I was associated with these so-called miracles.

All I could think about was Chester.

I arrived home to my parents elated by the news they had received that all my friends were perfectly fine, and were seemingly oblivious to the fact that this was related to other incidents. I knew I had never told them about Chester, but they didn't seem to associate any relationship between my grandmother's miraculous recovery and that of my friends.

For me, on the other hand, I could not get the three incidents out of my mind. I told them I was going to take Chester for a walk to clear my head, and headed out to the local trail to go for a bit.

After a few minutes on the trail, I sat down on this giant boulder, Chester jumping up at my side, and though I knew it sounded ridiculous, looked at Chester, and asked him if he had anything to do with any of this.

Chester was a dog, so of course he was involved, and he jumped up and down, tail wagging and entire body moving back and forth because of it, licking my face profusely.

I had to laugh, more because the licking tickled, but got up and headed back down the trail. Chester didn't even know what I was talking about, only that I was paying attention to him and we were on a walk - his favorite thing to do, even before sleeping.

But as we walked back I stopped for just a second. God, what is going on?

I got home, laid down in bed, and just let my mind wander. What was going on, and was any of it related to me in any way? No, I couldn't be so arrogant to think I had anything to do with any of it. But this inner feeling lingered. What did my grandmother mean when she said I was her special grandson?

The next day was Sunday, we all got dressed up special, picked up both sets of grandparents, and headed to church. But this Sunday was different, it felt different. I couldn't explain why, it just did. The church that we had been going to since I was a baby, the church in which I was baptized, seemed more beautiful than it had ever been before.

And suddenly from the pulpit, the pastor made the comment about how God works in mysterious ways!

Amen to that.

We left church, went to lunch as we did every Sunday, then returned home. As we were dropping off the grandparents, I asked my favorite grandmother if we could go for a ride later that afternoon. She had a giant smile across her face, and asked where we were going?

The smile only got bigger when I told her I wanted to take a trip over to the neighboring town, and the hospital there, and wanted her to come with me. There was something I needed to figure out.

As we walked into the hospital, I stopped by the gift shop and picked up a couple floral arrangements. We then stopped at the nurses station and asked if we could just stop by a few people in their rooms and try to cheer up their days. The nurses said our kindness would be greatly appreciated and pointed us out to a couple people that especially needed a visitor.

Everybody was so happy to see us, so happy for the company, and loved the flowers, conversation, and visit. I made a point to give everybody a giant hug before we left, held their hand, and let them know everything would be fine.

As I dropped my grandmother off several hours later, she again smiled at me, gave me a giant hug, and told me that I needed to take Chester for another walk, saying that I needed to spend a little more time in conversation.

She didn't say with whom I should have the conversation, or what that conversation should be about, or even whether I should be having it with Chester. I knew Chester was not who I was supposed to talk to, but thought it was funny that my grandmother had known about my question to God on the walk earlier that week.

My grandmother made plans for the following Saturday for a journey back to the hospital in the neighboring town. That week in school seemed like an eternity, with my emotions going all over the place. How would the people we visited at the hospital be doing? If they had recovered, who was I to think I had anything to do with it. Arrogance is not a positive trait. Did my grandmother really know what was going on? If so, how. Wait, what was going on?

I was even more confused than before.

Each night I tossed and turned with all my questions about what was going on. On one side I couldn't wait to get back to the hospital and see how everybody was doing, but on the other side was I really ready to find out? One way or another?

Saturday finally came, and we journeyed to the hospital in the neighboring town. I was a total mess, not knowing how I should feel, what I was dealing with, was I just losing my mind? We walked up to the nurses station and asked about the people we had visited.

They had all recovered and been sent home.

Neither my grandmother nor I said a word on the drive back home. Every time I looked at her she just returned the look with a giant smile. That didn't help anything.

I dropped her off, gave her a giant hug, and told her I was going to take Chester for a walk. As usual she smiled, then told me to ask out loud the questions I had been asking myself for the last week. She said not to expect an answer, instead be open to instruction and guidance.

"Remember, God works in mysterious ways, and with great power comes great responsibility."

My grandmother pointed out that I was already starting to think about the responsibility. By going to the neighboring town to test the theory of the power, I had avoided the possibility of the celebrity that may have occurred in our small town.

I now knew I had something that could be of vast good, I just needed to pursue the instruction and guidance from that which gave me the power and the gift.

I did make one stop before taking Chester out for his walk, and my conversation. I needed to hug every last injured animal at the animal shelter. I was alone in the kennel, and cried as I picked up every injured puppy and cat they had in the facility. I cried out of happiness, since I knew the outcome. I cried out of fear, not knowing exactly what I would do in the future.

But as I got back home and got Chester for his walk, he was unusually happy. I'm thinking he knew where I'd just been.

To be continued...

#Chester #gratitude #healing