“With me, stories start at the beginning. My story started on Sunday, but it actually happened on Thursday.” So begins the conversation with Ana as she reveals the story of how God pulled her from the brink of death and shrouded her in his love and forgiveness.
“I remember the Wednesday evening; we bought avocados and tomatoes for my lunch the next day and my clothes were hanging up and ready for me for work on Thursday. The next thing I knew it was Sunday evening and a nun was offering me communion.”
Unconscious for four days, Ana was unaware of the tragedy that was occurring around her. She looked at the nun in confusion and said, “I am not in a state of grace, and I cannot receive communion.”
But the nun then informed her that ‘Fr Mike’ had already heard her confession. “He absolved you and asked me to bring you communion.” Later that day she also remembers her younger son playing with her ears and saying, “They told me to come and kiss you because I would not be able to kiss you again!”
Ana later learnt what led to her lying in Ward 14 at the Port of Spain General Hospital. “On my way to work, that rainy Thursday morning in September 1993, my car was in an accident, and it overturned in a canal on the side of the highway in the vicinity of John Elie Road in Chase Village. I drove into a canal, and I floated up because I didn’t have on my seat belt and when they found me, I was on my back, the car was filled with water, and I was unconscious.”
Thankfully just as the accident occurred, a 17-year-old boy was driving down the highway, he did not witness the accident, but he saw smoke and suspected that it was a car. He then vehemently flagged down a passing vehicle for help. The only car that stopped happened to be filled with five police officers just coming off their shift.
At the same time, a gentleman living in the area who was the Safety Officer at Amoco also came to her aid. He knew exactly what was required to safely lift her out of the vehicle. “When they found me, my whole upper body was exposed, and the policeman took his shirt off and covered me and held me in his arms like a baby.”
Years later, she would tell the story of one day not too long after the accident, she saw a car filled with five men driving onto her driveway and she started to run up the steps out of fear. The men came out of their car and said, “We are looking for Ana Jagdeo’s family.” She was confused. One of the men said, “We want to know how long she survived after the accident.” She said, “ I am Ana Jagdeo.”
At that point Ana said, the burly police officers turned white because they were sure that she died. An officer said, “I am the man who took off my shirt and held you in my arms.” He also said that he never wore the shirt again because he was sure I died.
After 16 days in the hospital the doctor said, “I want to know your God.” Seeing how perplexed she was by that question, he explained, “The most amazing thing happened when you were still clinically unconscious.”
What the doctor told her sent chills down her spine. He told her that the group of doctors were discussing her case at her bedside. It was the general consensus of the team of doctors that she was going to die. The question therefore was should they waste precious resources on someone they were 99 per cent sure would not make it or should they try to save her.
The doctor said at that point, Ana raised her head and said, “You do what you have to do, and my God would do what He has to do”, and so they decided to help her the best that they could, and the very next day she was up and walking around.
“I did not understand that when Fr Mike said he absolved me that I was forgiven so I kept thinking I should go to confession.” When she went back to work, she went to Mass at the Living Water Community, but really, she went in search of Father Mike, and she remembers him saying the most beautiful thing to her.
“He said he would forgive me again if I wanted it, but I don’t need it because everything in the past was forgiven.” She still did not believe it.
But her spiritual life was in bloom again. “I had an awesome experience with my Fr Llanos (now Bishop Llanos).” She was on retreat and in the middle of his talk he said, “there is a woman here who does not believe that she has been forgiven and I am saying to you that you have been forgiven and absolved.”
She was stunned. “I knew the message was for me.” She admits now, “I needed to understand that when God forgives, He truly forgives.” It was confession night at the retreat and so Ana went to Fr Clarke and told him her story to which he said, “I know everything, and you do not need this, you cannot confess the same thing again” and she broke down in tears.