The monitors, tubes—even the smell and atmosphere of the Critical Care Trauma Centre in a hospital brings the fragility of life and the reality of eternity into sharp focus.
In quick succession, the scenarios brought to mind by the ‘what if this is it’ possibilities, flash through one’s mind, with bitter anguish. The reality of how life would suddenly and forever change stares you in the face. The concern for the loved one in the bed, is stirred in a jumbled mixture with desperate thoughts of how you will manage a new kind of life.
Sitting there with a dear friend whose husband was the centre of that activity, especially having experienced the loss of my own husband, brought back vivid memories. In her face I could see reflected some of those same thoughts and feelings and I felt the anguish all over. Words are wonderful conveyances but sometimes even those fail. All I could do was offer an arm and pray.
This time, though, there was an added dimension which I couldn’t fathom, for I also accompanied a sixteen year-old son to the bedside. As I stood holding his hand, again, all I could do was be with him and silently pray.
In the following days, I learned again the meaning and comfort of constant prayer. I felt a little like Moses keeping my arms and the cause of my friend lifted to the Lord during the battle that was raging in that hospital room. There was scarcely a moment that I was not aware of that stance—even when I awoke in the middle of the night—the last thing on my mind at night and the first thing in the morning.
The pause in the battle came one day when he was able to squeeze the hands of his family and briefly open his eyes. Our hearts gave thanks and our spirits lightened with hope. But the next day there was a relapse into coma.
Then, ten days after the onset, I found myself sitting again beside that bed speaking with him. Oh, he still has a battle to wage, but now he is aware and able to consciously join in the fight.
We give thanks and praise for the hope and believe that the curtain has fallen back into place without having passed through. However we are once more aware of the gossamer qualities of that curtain, how precious life is and our need to fully appreciate what we have. It is also important it is to be ready at all times for the day when we will most certainly pass through to the other side. If we are, there can also be a joy in the anticipation for our own passing, and a preparation if we are the one left behind.
Experiences such as the past few weeks aren’t ones we ask for, but they are learning and growing experiences that can enrich our lives—and they can also cement friendships if we stand with others during such times. I humbly and gratefully give thanks.