A few days ago, I was running around like a whirling dervish, rushing to get to the grocery store. My laundry is in our garage and the garage door was partially open. Out of my peripheral vision, it was open enough to accomodate the exit of my 4' 10" frame. So ahead I forged, not paying particular attention and BAM!!! I ran straight into the door, my forehead screaming and producing a constellation of stars.
I called my doctor, and she recommended going straight to the emergency room to ensure I wasn't suffering from a concussion. Now, at one time in life, I had no problem going to the ER, either by myself or accompanying a sick child. However, since all of my trouble with anxiety last year, this suggestion knocked me on my ear. There are just too many unpleasant memories centered around this particular place. I told my husband that I wouldn't go and that he couldn't make me. (Yes, I actually said that. Yes, I am officially five years old!!!) I also stated that I would probably be fine but even if I died from a brain hemorrhage, I felt okay about that and he and the children would survive. Though I was mostly kidding...mostly...he did not find this suggestion at all amusing. So after a few hours of feeling headachy and a bit nauseous, we drove out.
The familiar parking lot, building, chairs and triage rooms illicited the stress I had anticipated feeling. When the doctor said they would put me on a fast track to get a CT scan, I completely lost it. I began praying that I would encounter understanding personnel who might sympathize with my nervous plight. Of course, these prayers were answered. My nurse, Jenny, came up and introduced herself, saying the wait shouldn't be too long for the CT scanner, and that if I wanted to, I could just join my husband in the waiting room until they called my name. She said there was no point in risking a panic attack. ("Thank You, Lord, for sending me a rule bender," I thought.) I jumped at this offer and exited the door after triage.
Knowing that I could be with my husband calmed me a bit, and I started feeling more like myself. We were chatting when I noticed a woman sitting kitty cornered from me, covering her face with a paper towel. I will admit that my first thought was not charitable. "Please do not let me catch whatever she has." I hate going to the ER partially because I don't want the exposure to germs. But soon I saw that she was simply covering her face so that she could hide her tears.
I recognized this kind of grief and my heart went out to her. Clearly she was enduring a huge loss. I am not wired to stand idly by while someone suffers. In fact, Drew and I have a joke about this that we quote from our favorite comedy, Seinfeld:
George: "See, that's where I'm different. I can detect the slightest human suffering."
Jerry, as he suffers through yet another conversation with George: "Are you detecting anything right now?"
Finally, listening to my conscience, I went over to the lady, knelt beside her and touched her lap. I said I was so sorry that she was hurting. I just kept saying, "I know, I know, I'm so, so sorry." But since she spoke only Spanish and I only English, I couldn't know the cause. Her grandson was sitting beside her, translating what I was saying when she spoke back to him. He said, "She says her mother is about to die, and she's so sad."
I knew I recognized that heartache.
I told him, "Please tell her I lost my father two months ago, and I'm so very sorry."
At this she started wailing in full, sickening, throaty tones. Then she took a breath as she held onto me and, through her grandson, said, "I know the Holy Spirit is with us right now." She cried and cried, and I looked her full in the face, assuring her that I knew. Then I told her grandson to tell her that it is so hard for us here but that once her mother is gone, she just needs to look for ways that her mother is communicating with her. She will hear her and find comfort there. I asked her name - Raphaela - and told her I would be praying for her. She has been on my heart all day.
I know that grief.
I understand that wailing.
I sympathize with the desire to cover my face and
mourn in the privacy of my heart while in a public place.
I know what it means to have someone you don't know take your hand,
hold it, squeeze it and say how sorry they are.
I know that it helps.
And now I know why I hit my head on the garage door, finally agreeing
to go the emergency room.
God needed me to be His earthen angel to Raphaela...
Needed me to look outside myself to see the pain of another...
Needed me to listen to Him call me to action...
Needed me to tell her He was with her and she was being lifted in prayer.
God help me to always listen and abide by Your word.
(But Drew asks that next time, you just tell me I'm needed at the ER and leave the knock on the head out of the equation...thanks!)