Twice now, it has come without warning. No horn, no breaks. Bang. Adrenaline. Confusion. I step out. I see her. Dazed. Unharmed. She steps out. Her eyes fill will tears, and apologies spill off her tongue. I put my arms around her, her shoulders fall, and she weeps.
Twice now, it has come without warning. The plans for the day are no longer. It’s a hospital. A bed. And hours of waiting.
In the waiting room, an elderly woman sits alone. A nurse approaches, and she speaks with him. Her tone is earnest. She explains – “He gets confused. He wanders off. You cannot do a scan; he has an implant.” The nurse listens and tells her everything will be fine. Before she leaves, he asks her, “Is there anything you want me to tell him?” She pauses and then says, “Tell him I love him.”
The rooms are full. I lay on a gurney in the hallway. A kind-looking, senior gentleman in a John Deer ballcap lays in a bed across from me. He talks to me openly about his life, his service in Vietnam, and his beautiful wife. “Did you see her out there?” He asks me.
An older woman stands beside her teenage granddaughter, lying uncomfortably in a bed. She rubs her back as the young girl moans loudly. The girl cannot speak. Her tongue is thick, and her words jumble in her mouth. She’s trying to say something, but no words emerge. Her grandmother tells the nurse, “She’s gotten worse since her mother passed.”
Suddenly, the room is a burst of movement. People flood into a trauma room with machines and blankets. Moments later, uniformed men wheel in a gentleman attached to a chest compression system. It pumps thunderously. I hear, “Was there anyone with him?” “Does he have family here?” No family. He is alone, and he did not make it.
What was the point of all this? I found myself intentionally working on getting past the annoyance of a ruined day and prayed, “God, let me see what purpose I have here.” The gentleman’s wife wasn’t allowed to come back and stay with him. So, I listened to him and smiled at his self-deprecating humor. The grandmother eventually left, but the young girl remained. I couldn’t understand her, but I fluffed her blanket, repositioned her pillow, and smiled whenever she looked up at me. And for the man who never reopened his eyes, I prayed for his soul.
So much of what I’ve heard and discussed lately has been about anger, hatred, fear, and power. It pulls everyone in. Everyone. Somehow, we’ve made this life about winning, about control. We fear what we don’t understand. Ironically, fear then controls us. We decide in fear, speak through fear, and become blinded by our fear. It is not a kind of fear that crumples us. It fuels us, in all the wrong ways. It is the poison in the well.
We forget, without warning, life changes in an instant. We forget life is not for us to control. We have but one meaningful task on this Earth – and that is to love as best as we can.