A few weeks ago a dear friend of mine was camped in labor and delivery for a few days before having her sweet baby at 34 weeks. She was lonely and anxious and if there’s anything I’m good at it this point, it’s sitting in hospitals. So I texted my friend as I was getting into my car to visit and asked where she was.
I knew she was at the University of Maryland where my sister spent about six weeks last year in a coma. For some reason it didn’t make its way through my skull that I may have lots of feelings. Surely it wouldn’t be the same building, UMD is enormous. So I got her text immediately, oh in the building on Greene. Seventh floor.
Golly that sounds familiar, the seventh floor is where the neuro ICU is. Where I spent six weeks taking the trek to visit my sister. Where I cried and prayed and begged God to wake her up from a coma. Where He didn’t wake her up. Where the doctor in the room with all the windows told us global brain damage and “she’s not going to wake up”. Hrm. THAT seventh floor on Greene.
I took a few shaky deep breaths. Gazed at my “warrior” tat on my wrist in Kate’s handwriting. I chanted “I can do hard things” ten times out loud like a lunatic, alone in my minivan. I quickly texted a few in my tribe while I waited at he stop sign at the end of my street (shhh I was essentially pulled over!). Then down I went to the familiar trek downtown.
I went in the same parking garage. I remembered the smells and the feelings and the heat from the underground garage. As I left the garage and gazed at the tall building on Greene I instinctively started praying like I had SO many times before. This time for strength, that I wouldn’t be a sobbing mess by the time I got to my friends room, and for boldness. I decided on my drive down I was going to walk into the neuro icu and ask for our favorite nurse.
In I walked, smiled at the same doorman/security ish guy to the sign-in desk then to the elevators. By this time I was shaky. Up, up, up in the scary glass elevator shaft. The door opened and I forced myself out. I took a deep breath and pushed the doorbell. They let me in and then told me she wasn’t there. I left our favorite nurse a note with my email and asked her to connect if she wanted an update.
Meanwhile, it was time to get my act together. I found my way through the maze to my friend. I sat there listening and talking. My friend was nervous. She lost her second baby 15 months prior and there was some fear in that space. We get deep quick whenever we chat, bonded by intense pain and sorrow. Totally different but so much the same. We talked about how our families have only been one of a bazillion that have walked through the doors of this world-renowned hospital. We knew God as good on all the days before it was our people in those hospital beds. We were certain He was good when it was someone else’s sister clinging to life and someone else’s baby who stopped kicking too soon in his moms tummy. Somehow once it’s our people we question goodness and faithfulness. Not right but so very true. Anyway we talked over the sounds of some poor soul a few beds away puking her guts out. My friend made it to the delivery room, brought her perfect baby home, a happy ending for this chapter of her story.
So I made it. I lived through the elevators and the smells and the parking garage heat. I made it back onto 83 and home in time for church. Praying the whole way for every person in a bed in that hospital that didn’t have loved ones at their feet begging God for
mercy and grace.
Fast forward a few weeks. I got an email from that favorite nurse! We emailed back and forth a few times. I gave her a reasonable update of the last year and Katie’s successes and our sadness at her not being home. In a moment of boldness I asked her if Kate was doing better than she thought she would. Here’s her response:
Thank God I went to visit my friend even though it was hard. Thank God I left a note. Thank God she had a nurse that cared enough to respond. It’s been a slow month or so. We constantly teeter between wondering if kate has plateaued. Then she blows us away with three new things.
Today I’m finding comfort that God has the last word. If I’m stuck in thinking “this is IT?” I’m given a voice saying that she’s doing great.
Praying friends out there-please pray for more progress! More connection, more healing, less pain.