Jewish Journal


May 17, 2008

Katherine’s story: more on the Problem of Pain and how faith has buoyed a family and thousands


I thought about mentioning a personal story Monday when I talked about the Problem of Pain, It was a recent event, with ongoing recovery, that has both shaken my wife and I emotionally and encouraged us spiritually.

Last month, one of the leaders of the Young Marrieds group at Bel Air Presbyterian that we’ve been involved with suffered a brain hemorrhage. Katherine Wolf is my age, and my wife had just seen her two days before at a baby shower. Beautiful mother of an adorable six-month-old son, husband weeks away from finishing law school—prime of her life in every cliché sense. So young, and yet there she was at death’s door.

The emails for prayer went out immediately: “Important—prayers needed immediately” was the first subject line I saw. And after an unbelievable 13-hour surgery that doctors at UCLA weren’t optimistic about her chances to come out of, Katherine was stable. Very sick, but stable:

My beautiful girl was fairly unrecognizable until she opened her eyes and a shot of that unique aqua blue flashed out. She had a huge ventilator tube twisting her swollen, torn lips to one side and a feeding tube distorting her nose. Since we’ve switched to a tracheotomy and feeding tube in the stomach, she looks more like Katherine, although her face and neck are still swollen. Her head has been shaved in patches. It looks like an unlovely patchwork quilt. There is a square on the right front part of her head with several angry-looking holes, one of which has a tube coming out of it. There is a large shaved area across the back, where the main vertical incision was. But she still wears the matted ponytail of what’s left on top, darkened by crusty dried blood. Clear tape covers much of the whole mess. There are ‘boo-boos’ all over her body from one ghastly life-saving procedure after another. Tiny machines are attached to tubes entering her arms, hands, abdomen, thighs…which are hooked up to big scary-looking machines crowded around the bed.

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