It is an especially hard thing to watch a loved one exist in pain, to sit in a hospital room hour after hour and watch and pray and long for some glimpse of hope. With every breath you pay your ticket and board the roller coaster ride, buckle your over the shoulder seat belt hold tight as you free fall into one crisis after another…cancer…recurred…blood clot…brain bleed and then you tick, tick, tick up the next hill to hear…treatable…stable…strong heart.
Over time, it becomes tiring to look to every new day as a possibility for healing, but you do it anyway. With every sunrise you lean forward and stick out your tongue to try and catch some tiny medicine bottle droplet of good news squeezed out in the smallest tear of soothing liquid, hoping it will wet your thirst enough to carry you through to the next hour. It is in these hours, the watching and waiting hours, that any notion of justice, of good people getting what they deserve, of things working out the way they should, is robbed from you, so easily torn away like the sorry excuse for a garment that is the hospital gown. So you stand there, beside the bed of the one whom you love, wanting to help, trying to protect, hoping to heal, but aware that you are pitiful, weak, naked and bare. If you are desperate enough, you begin to look for miracles everywhere and anywhere you can find them. It is as if, just like your loved one, you have slipped into some other realm of awareness and as you stumble around in your inebriated state you bump into graces unseen by others unaware.
You begin to count the sacred job of feeding ice chips as a high and holy office and you hold to moments of clarity and connection like a soldier returning home from a long fought war. You watch each night as the dark skinned nursing tech flies into the room on her gossamer wings and you sit and you listen quietly as your loved one and she sing together, pray and talk of the healing power of love. Though you don’t know her, you melt into the arms of the charge nurse at the front desk, who lovingly receives your angry, cursing words and responds by wrapping her arms around you and says, “it will be all right.”
At some point, your tense, taunt muscles, fatigued from anxiety and lack of sleep, just give out, your resolve fails you and so, you. Let. Go. And you begin to float. For the first time, you begin to hear the words you’ve been singing for weeks over the bed of your loved one, the melody, the gentle notes of “All to Jesus, I surrender…” and you begin to lay back into the truth of your utter helplessness, your mere humanity, your complete lack of control. You breathe in and you breathe out and you sing.
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