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Photo: Felix Carroll
Annie Karto holds a photo of her son, Pete, and granddaughter, Lindsey, with an inset photo of Lindsey just after one of several surgeries.
'How Can I Be Strong?'
Following Accident, a Grandmother Turns to Divine Mercy
By Annie Karto (Sep 24, 2007)
I returned home after some leisure time at our local beach in Treasure Island, Fla., on April 20, 2005, and to my horror, I had a message on our answering service informing me that my daughter-in-law and two of my three grandchildren had been involved in a car accident.
My daughter-in-law, Lori, and my two-year-old grandson, were not injured. But my little 8-year-old granddaughter, Lindsey, was fighting to stay alive. She had a critical head injury. When she was admitted, Lindsey was so near death that two of the neurosurgeons were against operating. A third neurosurgeon, a woman named Dr. Smith, saw a reaction in one of Lindsey's pupils and was able to convince the other two surgeons that surgery would be worth the risk.
All the way to the airport, I fought back tears. My little granddaughter had just been baptized into the Catholic Church and had received her First Holy Communion. I had flown up to Indiana for the beautiful celebration.
"Why now, Lord?" and "Why this innocent lamb?" I cried.
"Jesus, I trust in You," I repeated in silent prayer as my friends drove me to the airport that evening. My husband, Dave, and 17-year-old son, Travis, were away for the weekend at a basketball tournament, so I was on my own on this sorrow-filled trip. I could barely speak, my grief was choking me. As I arrived at the hospital, I took one look into the eyes of my son, Pete, and daughter-in-law, and their eyes said it all. I embraced them. Our pain and sorrow reminded me of the grief of Mary, John and the other woman at the foot of the cross.
"O Lord," I thought to myself, "how can I be strong for them when my own heart is shattered into tiny pieces?" I kept repeating over and over again "Jesus, I trust in You."
Nothing could have prepared me for the sight I was about to see. Lindsey had survived the surgery and was in critical condition. As I walked into her room and saw her beautiful little face all swollen, her head wrapped in bandages, tubes in her head, her arms, and a ventilator breathing for her, I never experienced such sorrow. The cross! How can I accept this? How can I embrace this?
"Jesus, I trust in You," I repeated.
There was a chance Lindsey would not survive the night. After kneeling in prayer at her bedside, I prepared my heart to surrender her to the Merciful Savior. Above her pillow, I placed the image of The Divine Mercy, a holy card of Our Blessed Mother, and a small crucifix. She survived the night.
The next day was Sunday, and I called for a priest to administer the Anointing of the Sick. My son and daughter-in-law were in such grief it was unbearable. It was a beautiful, yet heart-wrenching moment as the priest anointed her little body. I don't know which caused me more pain — holding the lifeless hand of my little granddaughter as she lay in a coma, or watching the tears roll down my son's face.
After the anointing, I called home to my husband and then to some friends. I asked them to pray for Lindsey. I called a family I knew named the Fosters, a family I had recently introduced to the message of Divine Mercy. Ed Foster Jr., the father, told me that after Sunday Mass, he had seen the image of The Divine Mercy at Lindsey's bedside, and Jesus was touching Lindsey's head. I said nothing to my son and daughter-in-law about the vision Ed had.
That same night, Lori had a breakdown. She was inconsolable. I led her to the intensive care waiting room where she sat down and sobbed. She rocked back and forth, clutching one of Lindsey's favorite stuffed animals. I prayed for help, and a hospital chaplain — an elderly woman — stopped by to pray and hold Lori. She seemed to help calm her down. She asked Lori to lay down and rest and to try to envision something that would bring her peace.
The next day, Lori went over to Lindsey's bedside and picked up the image of The Divine Mercy. She seemed surprised by the image and had a look of amazement on her face. She then confided in me that she had tried to rest the night before, and the only thing that brought her peace was an image of Jesus that she saw in her mind. She said she had never experienced anything like it before. He had appeared to her exactly as He looked in the image of The Divine Mercy. Lori had just recently been baptized into the Catholic Church and knew nothing of the Divine Mercy message or the image.
She held the image in her hand and stared at it with wonder. I then shared with her the recent experience that Ed Foster Jr. had of the image of The Divine Mercy. I knew this experience of the Merciful Savior would see us through the ordeal ahead of us.
This cross included Lindsay being in a coma for three weeks. She underwent three major surgeries. She had to learn how to breathe on her own again.
Today, Lindsey is walking short distances on her own, shooting baskets, and smiling her famous smile. She has retained her same, sweet fun-loving personality. She has amazed all her surgeons, bringing some to tears. Her primary surgeon acknowledged that God alone had guided her hand through the surgeries. Lindsey continues daily therapy. The doctors expect her to recover fully, both physically and mentally.
There is an entry in the Diary of St. Faustina when our Lord says, "Souls who spread the honor of My mercy, I shield through their entire lives as a tender mother her infant, and at the hour of death I will not be a Judge for them, but the Merciful Savior" (1075).
In my heart I repeat the words of St. Faustina: "The Mercy of the Lord I will sing forever. Before all the people will I sing it, for it is God's greatest attribute and for us an unending miracle" (Diary, 522).
Annie Karto is a singer and songwriter whose musical CDs feature songs that promote Eucharistic Adoration, the Sacraments, Mary, and religious vocations. She is also a lay evangelist for Eucharistic Apostles of The Divine Mercy.