As most of you know, numerous miracles have occurred from the many artifacts from Garabandal, none the least of which are the various pine needles that are strewn beneath the trees of the apparition site. Every year, many such needles are picked up by various persons in hopes of a miracle associated with Our Lady's presence, but also to serve as a reminder of Her visit. Perhaps the message in these “pine needles” is to spread Her message around the world, much like they are scattered among the forest floor.
From these seeds spring forth a family of strong, stalwart trees that seek the heavens, and seem to survive even during the mightiest of storms--swaying, but never breaking during winds of change.
Such is the backdrop for our next, true, story which began many years ago, in 1977. It involves a mother who underwent a high risk pregnancy, fearing the worst. Indeed, she was carrying twins, and needed bedrest very early in her pregnancy. Her story attests to her faith, but more importantly, that of her mother's faith in the pine needles that she had received from Garabandal. From these needles, not one, but several, miracles sprang forth. This is her story....
Written by Sharon H.
I have been extremely hesitant about writing this for a long time, because when I tell it to friends, they hear my story and sort of “roll” their eyes, not believing. But I want to send a message of gratitude, and alert others to the goodness of Our Lady as it happened to me and my twins.
Photo: Mari Loli today
In 1977, when I was a teenager, I worked for a wealthy family in Manchester, Massachusetts, caring for their elderly mother. My mom had already been working there for some time.
The family's daughter--Elizabeth McNair--customarily visited various places from around the world, and happened to mention her visit to Garabandal to my mom. Apparently, Elizabeth was an acquaintance of one of the four visionaries, whom I believe was Mari Loli.
In fact, on one occasion, Elizabeth brought Mari home to visit with us (I recall asking Mari in my limited Spanish if she was cold...).
They continued to discuss the events of Garabandal from 15 years prior. Being a teenager, I generally had no interest in what the adults and parents were interested in, so I just shrugged it all off, and nearly forgot all about it. But my mother hadn't. On the day of Mari's visit, my mom was given a small plastic bag containing pine needles from the grove of trees, which also included the miracle story of Garabandal.
Time went on, and in 1997, I became pregnant, and it was determined that I had a very high risk pregnancy, carrying twins, and was ordered very early to complete bed rest. At one particular point in my pregnancy, I started bleeding, and of course, panicked, fearing the absolute worst. But my mom never wavered in her faith. She gave me her little plastic bag of pine needles, and I rested them on my swollen belly several times each day, finally falling to sleep with them in my hands under my pillow each night.
Photo (Right): Katie
Things became worse, and I was hospitalized after only 23 weeks (almost 6 months) of my pregnancy. I was merely five days at the hospital, and developed an infection that threatened my delivery, and so the twins had to be delivered earlier than expected (four months prematurely), by emergency C-section.
There were several complications in their birth, particularly with their birth weight, and I was unable to see them until three days later. I was advised at their birth that a baby, especially a premature baby, was not given much of a chance if it weighed less than 500 grams (about 19 ounces). Because of this, it might be unlikely that they would be placed on any form of life support.
I had two girls, Katie and Grace. While Katie weighed only 520 grams (20 ounces), Gracie weighed even less at 485 grams (or 17 ounces) when she was delivered. Had she not let out a mighty (but tiny) wail when she was being lifted out, she would not have been given any assistance - she would not be here today. She was, however, immediately placed on a ventilator--in spite of her weight.
Photo (Left): Gracie
The babies had collapsed lungs, bleeding on the brain, and required heart surgery. Their road to recovery and full development was long, arduous, and very heartwrenching for me to watch. But my mother--true to her faith--maintained through it all that they would be fine. During each night's visit to the hospital, I brought her pine needles with me, laid them on the head of each tiny girl, and prayed for their individual strengths.
However, on one night, I arrived home and couldn't find the pine needles. I remembered that I had placed them on the top of one of the incubators, but was positive that I hadn't collected them. I checked everywhere in my house, even in the pockets of the clothes that I wore to the hospital.
Frantic, and firmly believing that the presence of the needles offered promise for my twins, I telephoned my mother, hoping that she had received more pine needles, but she had no more. I then telephoned the hospital asking them to search, but they, too, couldn't find them. I thought for a fleeting moment that the hospital staff had removed them with their soiled laundry.
Finally, I sat on the edge of my bed, and losing hope, reached one last time in my pockets fearing the worst--and there they were!! I knew for sure they were previously not in those pockets, yet here they were in my hands!
At one point in their ordeal, Kate was experiencing bleeding on her brain, so I called the chaplain's office to ask for his blessing of the sick. Very shortly after his stay, I noticed a strange white area on her tiny head. The doctors told me it was a tissue anomaly--but I knew better. As I expected, the bleeding resolved itself as shown by a subsequent ultrasound. Her hair became platinum blonde in that one particular spot, and remains so to this day.
Both girls spent another five months in area hospitals, and finally came home on Easter, 1998.
I continue to lay what remains (about two halves) of the pine needles on them each night, praying for their continued recovery and gathering of strength.
Photo: July 3, 2003 - Kate in stars, Graces in stripes. 5 1/2 yrs old now. Look how beautiful!
As for remnants of their ordeal? Grace has a tiny hernia scar, and wears glasses for her nearsightedness in one eye. And Kate has a sizable scar from her heart surgery. But other than that, they are both healthy and happy three-year olds, with the world on a string, sitting atop a rainbow.
The medical technicians and doctors who safeguarded them, and continue to care for them, tell me these two "micro-preemies" are very remarkable. But I knew that already.
And I am eternally grateful to God for everyone who prayed for them (and there were legions!), the blessings that were granted to them, and for the pine needles from the Garabandal apparition site that my mom preserved.
I am attaching their individual photos, so that you may see how wonderful they are to me!!