The story of any one of us is in some measure the story of us all. ~Frederick Buechner

Nolan the Star Thrower

Fifteen years ago, I went to the hospital with some abdominal pain. I wasn’t sure what was happening, but what I thought was happening was an ectopic pregnancy—a fertilized egg that lodges in the fallopian tubes instead of the uterus and then grows there and often causes the tube to rupture. We had been trying to get pregnant for almost two years—so many doctor visits, tests, and procedures and just as many rides on the mental, spiritual and emotional roller coasters.

So here it was, a Monday night and school was starting the next day. Being a teacher, I didn’t want to miss the first day of school, but the pain was not going away and so off we went to Cook County emergency room. Abdominal pain is pretty low on the priority list at a busy hospital, so David and I waited hours and hours just to be seen.

Finally, around 2 a.m., my name was called and the doctor decided that an ultrasound was in order. I got wheeled off to what seemed like a closed part of the hospital—down a dark hallway to an ultrasound machine that was in a row of dimly lit curtained “rooms.” The technician looked up at me and said, “Do you want to see your baby?” I was so shocked—I didn’t know how to respond! The ultrasound technicians are usually sworn to silence and silently take pictures and tell you to wait to talk to your doctor about your results.

I couldn’t wait to tell David! He was in the waiting room and I came out and told him the good news! We left the hospital around 5 a.m. and went to an IHOP and had breakfast. We called his parents as soon as we got home because they live in Europe and are several hours ahead of us. We had to wait to call mine because they were living in Seattle which was two hours behind us.

After we called all of our relatives, it was time to tell our friends. Having been up all night and then finding out our miracle baby was on his way, I was feeling very giddy and excited. I got to school and couldn’t wait to tell all my students and co-workers who had been praying for us. I had just finished telling them when Cynthia came into the room and said, “A plane just flew into the Pentagon!”

We switched on the TV and watched as the news reported on the plane flying into the World Trade Center. There was stunned silence in the room.

All that day, I had such a mixture of emotions. I had this amazing personal news in the midst of tragic national news. All day long, we kept asking “Have you heard the news?!” and we had GOOD news to tell!

Nolan was born 5 weeks early, which was totally unexpected, and the date of his birth fell on the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination. These two juxtapositions of dates, along with him being my miracle baby, made me see him as a harbinger of hope. My little Star Thrower—a glimpse of life in the midst of the overwhelming tide of darkness and death.

Silently, I sought and picked up a still-living star, spinning it far out into the wave. I spoke once briefly. “I understand,” I said, “call me another thrower.” Only then I allowed myself to think. He is not alone any longer. After us there will be others. We were part of the rainbow —like the drawing of a circle in men’s minds, the circle of perfection. I picked and flung another star. I could feel the movement in my body. It was like a sowing—the sowing of life on an infinitely gigantic scale. I looked back over my shoulder, and small and dark against the receding rainbow, the star thrower stooped and flung one more. I never looked back again. The task we assumed was too immense for gazing. I flung and flung again while all about us roared the insatiable waters of death, the burning sun, for it was men as well as starfish that we sought to save, a thrower who loved not man, but life.

Loren EiseleyThe Star Thrower from the Unexpected Universe”


Debbie Baumgartner
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