Disclaimer: I certainly recognize that many others have gone through more serious, long-term stays in hospitals. These are just a few thoughts from my own personal experiences this week.
Our oldest son, Gary, went to the ER with respiratory distress early Monday morning. He was admitted to the ICU, sedated and paralyzed, and put on a ventilator. My husband and I hopped on a plane and have been with him ever since. While I wish Gary and his sweet wife, Chelsea, didn’t have to go through this, there are several reasons I feel blessed to have been here this week:
- God’s Family has no geographical borders. Our home is in Colorado. Our son’s home is in Alabama. We have been welcomed and helped by Christians here just as if we were one of their own.
- Christians are second-milers. Oh man, I don’t have enough word-count to share every kindness that’s been extended to us. We’ve had visits and messages of encouragement. We’ve been brought snacks, homemade bread, blankets, parking tokens, meals, a gift certificate to a restaurant that delivers to the hospital, a vehicle to borrow, and magazines. We’ve only slept in the waiting room one night because of the generosity and thoughtfulness of friends and local churches. The kindnesses just keep coming!
- Every prayer matters. Within a couple of hours of our first morning here, we had four different area preachers come by and pray with us in the ICU. Through the years Neal and I have circled up with folks for a prayer around a patient’s bed. I never really knew how courage-bolstering that could be. So many others have let us know they are praying. Every single time, we feel comforted and grateful.
- Things get put into perspective. The world goes on outside these hospital walls but in here it feels like time stands still. We are mostly focused on life, faith, and family. Questions rise to the surface: Does Gary know how much I love him and how proud he makes me? Do our Christian friends know how acutely we feel their concern and how much it means to us? Through it all, we’ve been praying and contemplating.
- Love is greater than fear. It seems like every time my heart begins to worry, some kind gesture or word comes our way. We are really seeing the Light this week. Its warmth covers our cares.
- Inside beauty is invaluable. Oh, our sweet Chelsea. She has helped Gary through things that weak stomachs won’t want to read about. She works long hours and sleeps short nights in a hospital room but has yet to complain about a single thing. Just now Gary asked her, “How are you holding up?” She answered, “I’m fine, Hon. You don’t have to worry about me!” She is a cutie pie but more than that, her inner beauty has been a blessing to us all. She is a worthy woman and we thank God for her.
- Progress is worth celebrating. Every little step on the road recovery causes rejoicing. From big things (like coming off the ventilator) to little things (like sitting up for the first time), we smile and hug each other as we witness evidence of improvement. I was never so excited to walk in and see someone eating applesauce. When we share these good bits with others and they rejoice with us, it makes us smile all over again. Consider how much more important spiritual progress is for new babes in Christ or for those making their way back from waywardness. Every small step is a victory. If we celebrate with them it can only encourage them to keep trying.
- God is so good!
I was going to include a point about vanity. It doesn’t matter that I only had five minutes to pack and left behind hair products and other beauty essentials (um, like tweezers). Our first visitor was an old college friend we haven’t seen in over 26 years. We’ve been meeting people for the first time and reuniting with family members this week. I’m wearing sweats and have my hair pulled back in a ponytail. I was going to include that point about vanity, but I do care. I wish I looked better. Ah well, I haven’t learned everything in the ICU.