I am of two minds about this place where people either die or get healed.
It was in a hospital where many of my loved ones breathed their last: my son, Adrian; mother, grandmother; in-laws (Tony’s dad, mom, sister, and brother); and friends.
Yet, it was in a hospital where Tony underwent a rushed colon cancer (stage 3) surgery 25 years ago. It was in a hospital where he had a quadruple heart bypass nine years later. It was in a hospital where I gave birth to my three precious sons—the pride of my advancing years.
It is in hospitals where son #2 spends most of his time, doing what other physicians had done and are doing for his dad.
And today, here I am blogging about this place in an antiseptic room with gold curtains, watching Tony as he reads the newspaper, dozing off now and then—a luxury that eluded him in the last two weeks because of breathing difficulty, caused by his weak heart given a new lease on life in another hospital room all those years ago.
Just last month we were in a similar room on the same floor with men and women clad in white, walking briskly inside and outside our door and the adjacent doors that share one long hallway. While I do not welcome the in-and-out movements of these humans who have dedicated their lives to care for ailing patients, I am grateful for what they do.
They are a collage of grace put together by the Creator to stand watch over those feeling faint and weary—some soon going home to continue enjoying their God-given lives and some going to funeral parlors, a stopover on their way to the life they chose at the end of this mortal coil.
Inside the elevator, which I frequent to go to the canteen or the cashier, I meet people, some sporting a smile of relief and some, a grimace of dread, accompanied with quiet sobs. One of them thought aloud, looking at me, “I have not slept for three days watching over my nephew. He had a stroke at age 3.”
Oh, I am so sorry, is all you could whisper.
In hospitals, these are what encounters are made of. You have to take it all, while hanging on to the promise you keep repeating to yourself, and praying that your fellow pilgrims will discover it, so that they, too, may have peace:
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (ESV)