Church comes together to answer woman's prayers
From the day a child is born, most parents assume they will be there for the milestone moments. Starting with those first words and first steps and growing into graduation, marriage and the birth of their first grandchild, parents can see the future all laid out in front of them, but sometimes, that future changes.
Six years ago, Susan Sanchez saw her future changing dramatically when she was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s Disease, a progressive neurodegenerative disease affecting nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord with a life expectancy of about three to five years after diagnosis.
As the disease has progressed, Sanchez has become paralyzed from the neck down, and she can no longer speak, although she is able to communicate through lip reading — a process that can be frustrating at times. Her days are mostly spent in her room in her mother, Marie Sharp’s, home watching TV or visiting with her nurse and family and friends.
But despite these difficulties, Sanchez has remained determined to miss as few of the milestones in her children’s lives as possible. When her daughter, Lauren, became engaged, Sanchez knew she wanted to be there for the wedding. However, the question of "how" was one she couldn't answer.
Sanchez is bedridden and on a ventilator to help her breathe, making going anywhere a challenge, but instead of giving up on her dream, she turned to prayer.
“It started when I prayed (to God) to let me see my daughter get married and to see my first grandchild before I die,” said Sanchez. “God laid it on my heart to call (the church), and after that, it all came together.”
Her mother contacted the family’s church, Allens Creek Baptist, for help planning the wedding and making sure Sanchez was able to be there on the big day. It didn’t take long for members of the church to offer help with everything from raising money for expenses providing decorations for the ceremony and food for the reception. The CNA who takes care of Sanchez, Phoebe Pace, and her husband, Dooker, were there to help and provide a barbecue dinner after the wedding.
“It was amazing the way everything fell in place,” Sharp said. “It seemed like everybody in our church started coming to her to ask if they could help.”
“I would have never thought that all my friends would have come together,” Sanchez said.
The most difficult part of the plan was finding a way to get Sanchez to the church safely, but the group was able to arrange for Haywood County Rescue Squad to transport and monitor her during the ceremony.
On the big day, Sanchez, holding a bouquet of flowers, was able to watch her daughter walk down the aisle. To show Sanchez how much it meant to have her there, Lauren sang her mother’s favorite song “Wonderful, Merciful Savior” to her before exchanging vows with her new husband Jackson.
“Everyone was in tears,” Sharp said.
“We used to sing all the way to school,” Sanchez recalled.
The whole experience was “wonderful,” she said. “This was the first time I had been out of this room in about six months.”
Although the wedding has come and gone, recent news has given Sanchez something else to look forward to. Lauren and Jackson announced they were going to have a baby last week.
Sanchez’s first grandchild is due in September, and once again, she plans to be there to meet him or her.
“When God answers prayers, it is in a big way,” Sanchez said.