Friday, September 26, 2008

What Time Is It?

Sometimes I visit Pray as You Go for my morning devotions. I had not been here for awhile but re-visited the site after reading Gannet Girl's poignant stories on her journey in grieving the loss of her son. This week's lessons have been from Ecclesiastes. Yesterday I made a homebound visit to two of our members to share in conversation, a devotion and communion. They are young, in their 30's, but he has battled non-Hodgkins lymphoma for the last 12 years. The cost of the cure has scarred his lungs, and left many other losses, yet they are generally one of the happiest couples I know. He is almost exclusively home-bound because of a compromised immune system. But yesterday's visit was the time to hear that she had been in tears because of a very bad day at work. It was a time to cry and a time to laugh, and a time to heal. So much so that an hour and half passed without it seeming so.
When I walked in the door, my husband told me there was a message from a good friend. It was from our daughter's trombone teacher. G has known my husband since high school, our oldest and their daughter are in high school together. We have socialized for years, and shared the ups and downs of parenting, and his wife's battle with MS over the last 10 years. She received her diagnosis when our daughters were in kindergarten together; next year they will graduate together. K's condition has affected her vision, and her mobility. It has been a couple years since she last drove. She is fully wheelchair bound within this last year. Catheterized within the last six months.
Two weeks ago, she had another episode which rendered her unable to use her arms, resulting in hospitalization, followed by rehab and therapy. Sadly, the conclusion was that she could not return home. Last week the planning began to place her in an skilled facility here in town. On Monday of this week, it was the time to share his pain about suddenly not only feeling like a single parent, but also like a bachelor. Balancing work, the home, the needs of their daughter, his aging parents who live on the same farm lane, and the disconnect of having a 48 year old spouse who will now be somewhere else. It was just too much to take in at once. Latched onto me, sobbing. And it was a time to hear from my daughter's friend about how scared she is that her mom is sick like this. This new and scary reality.
And this is where things were when I pulled into the driveway last night. To get the message K is back in the hospital- in ICU. Could I please call and would I please go to see her.
The day after her transfer to the facility, people were meeting in a conference room across the hall from her, and somehow someone noticed that K seemed unresponsive. She was, and they called a Code Blue. After 15 minutes of no response, they called G at work to tell him what had been transpiring and what did they want them to do? I cannot fathom sitting in my office and getting this call, this totally unexpected call, this life-altering call. He told them if they felt all had been done, he was prepared to accept that death may be at hand. As he shared this with me, his voice sounded different than it ever had, not overwrought, but exhausted and accepting. But then, they called him back to say, she had responded. She was stable, but they needed to send her to the Regional Trauma Center in Amish Country. Which is where she is now, where they are evaluating what this all means, while she is entubated.
And so it is time for me, as their friend, to also be something else, having been asked to see her as a chaplain, to bring those who will be on call up to date, and to visit my friend, and to pray for them and with them.
I confess it is hard to know what to pray for. She had a period of anoxic time, and may be pretty compromised, this may be a time when infection will take hold. It is hard to know whether it is time for life to continue or to end. And like the words of Ecclesiastes, we cannot see the beginning to the end. But it is a time when we seek and hold on to God, to trust that God is walking with them, in their suffering, and bringing consolation in the form of all who are in their midst. It is a time to pray for guidance, and knowledge for caregivers, and compassion. To trust that even when we do not know what to ask for, God hears and will provide. A time to accept that while we may not know what time it is, God does. God doesn't give us all of the answers, but God gives us God's self.
And a time to know that God gives each of us tasks to carry out. May God guide me in this day that I may be who God needs me to be.

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