It’s been on my mind all day today, what with today being, well, you know, Saturday. And tomorrow being Easter. And I’m wondering what that first Saturday was like, the one after the horrors and sadness of the day before. I usually do that every year about this time. I think about the day and wonder about different things.
I wonder, I mean I was just thinking, did anyone walk up to those who were grieving the loss of the one they loved, the one who had been brutally and suddenly taken from them, and say, “Well, it will all be okay.” “Don’t worry, he’s in a better place.” “It’s all a part of the Master plan.” I just wonder…..
It was Saturday afternoon. I’d spent the better part of the day at my alma mater with my oldest for scholarship day, a day filled with interviews and forums and walking all over campus. I’d been anxious and worried, as Mama had been in the hospital for three weeks and moved into a different room on a different floor just the afternoon before. I wanted to be with my oldest, but I also wanted to be with my Mama.
Upon arriving at the hospital, a nurse was adjusting some of Mama’s IV’s and medications, and it was apparent that things were not going well. The nurse was trying to bring up some numbers and down some others. She saw my face and looked at my seventeen year old, and said she was too young to be in the room. What she didn’t say was I’d be asked to leave if I let the panic in my face be unleashed. Mess Cat, who had been with Mama all day and the night before, took my girl and went to get a bite to eat. I was sitting by myself, willing Mama to fight this unknown evil and soaking in the first quiet moments of the day.
And then she walked in.
She introduced herself as a hospital chaplain.
Ah yes, right. I had asked one of the patient representatives about having a chaplain come in and spend some time with Mama. She had been so comforted by her own pastors and friends who had come in and visited. We had been told by at least one nurse that Mama didn’t seem to be resting well at night. I had wanted to ask the chaplain on call to check in with her during those long night hours when we hadn’t been allowed to be with her, prior to her moving to the MICU the day before.
She sat right down next to me on the couch that would later fold out into a bed for me and Mess Cat to sleep fitfully upon. She asked me how I was doing.
“Okay, I guess. I mean, well–” I gestured toward Mama in the bed a few feet away. I started to explain what we were hoping for. “I am glad you are here though–“
She interrupted me. She was not there because she’d gotten the message that Mama needed visits. I’m not sure if we were on her room list and needed to be checked off or if the nurses had asked for us to have a visit to get through this difficult time. Whichever it was, she was not going to sit and listen to me explain about Mama. She had her spiel, and she went into it. About how I needed to turn to my faith and not let the darkness overcome me. That I needed to turn to God.
It was overwhelming to tell you the truth. In the past forty-five minutes, I had driven across town while listening to my oldest compare the two colleges she’d visited over the past week, parked on the roof of the parking garage, where I’d changed out of my dress pants and into the jeans I’d brought, switched from dress shoes to my comfortable ones, entered the hospital, walked down to Mama’s floor, been admitted to the unit (imagine having to have permission to see your Mama!), and been hit full force by the apparent problems that were needing to be addressed for Mama. I was having to think about changing her code status; and if that weren’t enough, this woman who didn’t know me or my Mama or what we were going through, and apparently wasn’t going to take the time to hear any of our story, tells me I need to turn to God.
Excuse me, lady, if it’s all the same to you, you don’t know me like that.
Before I could pick my chin up off the floor, she patted my hand. “I tell you what, I want you to sit here,” she patted the couch, “just sit right here and think about God your Father. Just think about Him and how much He cares for you and take all of that in, and I’ll be back in 30 minutes and we’ll talk about how you’re feeling then.”
My chin slammed back down and hit the tile floor again. The only thing I could think, as I held back the tears was, “My Father is gone, and I’m scared I’m losing my Mama too, and you want me to sit still? There are things I. Have. To. Take. Care. Of. That I Must Do. Thank you, but NO.”
Instead I sat and didn’t dare speak for what might come out of my mouth. The one who had raised me better, to act like I am somebody, lay only a few feet away, and for all I knew, she could hear every word. So I just stared blankly at this woman who called herself a chaplain, as she gathered her clipboard, handed me her card, and made her way out of the room.
Soon after that Mess Cat and Aub came back in the room. I shared with them what had happened. I was livid–appalled, and they were too. When the chaplain came back, my sister excused her and told her it wasn’t the time. And it wasn’t. I was signing paperwork about insurance coverage, as Mama had been in the hospital enough days that they needed additional information. Right after that, I talked with Dr. G, who was such a great ally for us and good advocate for Mama, and I signed paperwork, changing Mama to a DNR.
Horror. Sadness. Nothing like what those who loved Jesus and watched the crucifixion went through, but painful still. As I sat there on that Saturday, waiting and wondering and talking to God, and shaking my head, hoping it was all a very, very bad dream, someone sat next to me and said, “It will all be okay. God’s got this.”
And all I could think of was, “Really? Because I’m not so sure. Couldn’t He have stopped this at any moment?”
I wonder if any of them–any of the disciples, Mary, Mary Magdalene, I wonder if any of them thought these same thoughts–if any of them wanted to scream and punch a wall. I wonder if anyone, well-intentioned as they might be–said to any of them, Just sit here and think about your faith. Trust.
I wonder what it was like fearing you had lost the One who gave you new life. The One who made a way for you to live out your life. The One whose example you sought to emulate.
Or maybe I don’t have to wonder about that part so much. Because in just over twenty-four hours after the chaplain visited, my Mama was given new life of her own, healed, no more pains and heartaches–she joined my Daddy and the little ones whom she never got to hold. The woman who gave me life, who called me out about my poor choices, set a beautiful example of how to live, and loved me through everything–she was gone.
The brokenness of Friday, the waiting and wondering and heartbreak of Saturday, and then there’s Sunday.
Tonight my heart is heavy for those for whom tomorrow does not bring joy. Easter is more than a day, it’s a lifting of the spirit. And not everyone is able to have that on this day. There are friends in the hospital, friends who have just said goodbye to someone they loved most in this world, friends who are waiting on tests to come back, friends who will wake up in the cold air of morning and their day will be no different from any other, except that those who pass them by, seemingly without seeing them, are dressed a little brighter, a little fancier.
For them, Sunday comes, but Easter may not.
May our words be a comfort and not leave the ears upon which they fall filled with sadness and hurt, may we understand that not everyone is able to rejoice on this Day of days, and may we seek to listen and to love first and foremost, putting others before ourselves. And may the quiet moments of this day sound louder than the festive ones, filling our hearts with more to ponder upon as the sun sets and a new season begins.
Love and understanding to all.