Hidden In Plain Sight

My computer connects automatically to the wifi at St. Anthony’s Hospital. I find this really aggravating. A little and unexpected jab in my gut as I sit in another hospital room, watching my dad sleep in another hospital bed.

Apparently I come here often enough that even my computer feels at home.

Yes I realize it is super smart like that and remembers the wifi after just one visit, but it frustrates me nonetheless. I don’t like ANY piece of my life getting “comfortable” here. We have been in this hospital more times than I can count. I have seen my dad in this position … more times than I can count. Every single time I can’t help but wonder, “Is this the end?” Usually when that thought arises, I snap back and tell it to do something I dare not mention here (I’m not gonna pretend I’m the Christian girl with a completely clean mouth … I love Jesus, but He is still working on my mouth).

I don’t like the feeling of slowly becoming desensitized to another call of my dad being rushed to the ER. It used to send me into an instant panic. Now, I can still feel my heart race, just not at the velocity it used to. The process, in some way, has become … normal. This time around, however, after learning my dad was headed to the ER in an ambulance, my heart once again responded as it used to in the youth of this journey. I was driving through Nebraska when I got the call from my mom - six hours out, trapped in a car that could not go fast enough and feeling impossibly far away from my dad. My elevated heart was accompanied by a cloud of panic and very rosy cheeks. Longest six hours of my life.

But now, thank goodness, I’m finally here and sitting in a room that is starting to feel a bit too … comfortable. I’m in my usual spot in the corner by the window; legs outstretched on the couch, computer on my lap, coffee within reach. To the left - mountains. To the right - my dad. My mom is using her usual hospital voice and whispering something about dinner, while simultaneously digging through her purse. The - now - white noise of hospital equipment is all around. The beeping and churning of machines used to really bother me. I found the foreign noises to be harsh and quite unnerving. Now however, they blend in and I don’t notice them in the least. It has become normal, no longer scary and no longer irritating. It’s very similar to the way parents eventually learn how to tune out the noises that go hand and hand with children.

Battle Wounds

My eyes are shut and the headphones I’m wearing are sending buzzing tones to my ears. Each side is taking its turn in a tag team fashion … left, right, left, right, left right. In my hands I hold two sensors. They send corresponding vibrations and are apparently in cahoots with the headphones, because they too are dancing back and forth … left, right, left, right, left, right. It seems to make my eyes flicker and is supposed to do something to my brain. Rework, rewire, or redistribute my thoughts I guess … I’m actually not quite sure what exactly it does, but I have heard from good authority it helps with trauma.

I’m asked to go back to a very painful memory.

I relive a diagnosis and a room where my life changed forever. I see the tech remove her gloves and walk out of our room. I can feel my heart pounding in my chest. I see my husband trying hard to hide his panic. Then images of the next months start to flash before me, as if in a sped up slideshow … the doctor with kind eyes looking down at me saying, “Your son is going to die” … standing in the shower holding my belly and screaming in agony … falling to my knees and sobbing on the living room floor … dancing in the kitchen surrounded by my husband’s embrace … early mornings sitting in a ball on the couch with my Bible by my side as tears stream down my cheeks. In those scenes I am praying and begging God for a miracle. Next scene comes and I am at work fumbling for keys with shaking hands. This is where my water broke and with it all hope I had been so desperately holding on to. A hospital room. So many doctors. Laying in a bed, looking up at my sister and husband and noticing their glistening eyes and clenched jaws. Everything is crumbling. Finally, I see my son. He is as beautiful as I remember and he is wiggling. Moments later, he is no longer moving. He has gone from our arms to the arms of his creator. A bruise emerges on his chest where the nurse pushed to listen for his heart. Next scene emerges and I am walking behind my husband as he carries a tiny casket. A deep hole I’m jealous of because it gets to hold my son. Amazing grace. Doves. The horrific sound of a truck load of dirt collapsing on the place where we just put him. Dead flowers with muted colors now cover his grave. I drape my body over where I days earlier laid his and sob. My world has shattered, and the world around me is still spinning unfazed and at a relentless speed.

Then it goes dark …