My dad has been in the hospital for the past few days. One sister has stayed overnight with him each night while the others have been trading off back and forth throughout the day since my mom needs the help. It's times like these that I am so glad to be Italian and a woman. I awake in the morning to find 4-5 emails telling details of the night's happenings...nurse visits, what he's eaten if anything, what they talk to the doctor about, etc. I am so grateful to have sisters who communicate like me, telling every single event in vivid detail. I can't get enough! It's so hard not being there. My sister, Theresa, has been so lovely throughout having to stay up. (My dad has barely slept in three days.) One of her emails from last night started, "Well, here we are, 3AM and still having a rollicking good time!" It takes lots of grace to have humor after one of those kinds of nights.
We have too much experience with overnight hospital stays - more than any young family should have. This situation with Daddy got me thinking about the many nights we had to stay in the hospital with Braden. SO many asthma attacks in the early years. (It turns out, almost nothing beats being admitted immediately to the emergency room than saying you can't breathe. We basically had a fast pass into Miller's Children's Hospital. Until the time Drew took Braden and was about to sail by ten people waiting - when all of a sudden, a guy came in with chest pains. Note to all, possible heart attack trumps asthma every time - just so you know!)
Anyway, you'd think that once the child (or adult in my dad's case) was finally resting comfortably, the patient could just sleep. But no...a nurse, therapist, doctor, or cleaning crew come in and out all night, switching lights on, poking, prodding, talking too loudly, waking everyone and everything in their path. It's pretty miserable.
The occurence that comes most prominently to mind, however, of all the hospital stays, was the evening we were admitted and received a diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes as the reason for Braden's numerous symptoms. To say we were in shock is a huge understatement. I feel like I slept walked through the four days we were there. I don't remember much (thank goodness for selective memory shielding us from that which we cannot handle) but I remember with great clarity my third morning there.
It had been another aforementioned long night with people in and out, making me get up and start learning to check his blood sugar on my own. They really had to push me to do it. I was thick with denial. I had slept not at all when morning came. An especially compassionate nurse came in and looked at me, saying, "Why don't you go get something to eat? He's sound asleep, and you need a break. I'll keep an eye on him while you're gone." I glanced down at my 6 year old sleeping angel whose life had changed forever in one hideous night, and I realized it was all coming up in me. I had to get out of that room for a few minutes. So I ran down to the cafeteria to get a quick bite, even though no part of me had any appetite whatsoever.
I found myself at the bagel station. I grabbed a white one and set about trying to slice it with one of those fancy industrial slicers. I put the bagel in one way, then another, took the lid off the machine, turned it a different way. I was so muddled and so emotional, I couldn't even figure out how to slice a piece of bread! So instead, I just hung my head and wept.
I wept for the loss of my child's future as I saw it in my mind...
I wept for the knowledge that he would have to be poked and prodded numerous times a day for the rest of his sweet life...
I wept for myself and my husband and the new wrinkle that had been thrown into our lives...the assurance that it would limit our activities as a family or as a married couple...
I wept for fear of my son's ultimate health...
I wept and wept and wept some more at that bagel station.
Suddenly I noticed a woman who had sidled up beside me. She wordlessly took my bagel and put it in the slicer, cutting it effortlessly. She looked at me and asked, "Toasted?" I mutely nodded my head. She put cream cheese on my tray, pushed it down to the end of the toaster, put my bagel on a plate and carried all of my things to the cashier. "Let me pay," she said. I just stood there while she paid for two trays, both hers and mine, then she squeezed my hand and said something like, "It will get better." I watched her walk away, then carried my tray back to Braden's room to eat my beautifully toasted bagel with cream cheese while beside him.
I cannot explain it, but I knew in that moment, I had met an angel.
There is no doubt in my mind.
That woman's gestures of kindness buoyed my spirits at a time I didn't think I could get lower.
Her simple acts of selflessness showed me in the flesh that God sends messengers to us when we are in need.
I knew with no doubt that I would not be walking this journey alone.
My hope and prayer is that throughout the next bit of time, be it days, weeks, or months, that my family will experience the presence of angels in their midst.
Angels walking among them,
paying the price so they don't have to.
Angels sent from our Father for our father with love.