Written by: VWoods
I don’t like hospitals in particular, but some of my character building and extremely trying memories have been in hospital rooms. Looking back now, I can smile at some and shake my head at others and say, “what the hell was that”? But ultimately, what has happened to me as a result of these experiences is that I can see someone become hysterical, fearful or hurt at certain situations and be calm or not be judgmental at their reactions.
In 2007-08, I spent a lot of time visiting several hospitals as a result of playing catch up with my older brother who was going through last-minute attempts at finding a solution to end stage heart complications. The doctors, bless their souls, tried as hard as they could to circumvent what his body was doing to him, and this went on for most of 2007 heading into 2008. Finally in the beginning of February 08, they pretty much finalized the attempts they were making and gave him about six weeks to live. This was a first for me, having to coordinate a death; how do you usher someone from life to death consciously and make sure that how they go to their final resting place is with the grace and comfort that you would want anyone to bestow on you?
Ok, despite the fear, angst and trauma I felt, I had to bury those feeling deep within me because I came to the realization at this point that it was not about me. Wow, in hindsight at some of the accusations that I am shallow and selfish that I have been labeled with at times, I think that is just so awesome (pat on my back there). But the frame of mind I had to come to was a rationalization that this is not about me, but I needed to put his needs, wants and desires as the highest priority.
The first thing I started doing was calling the flower company during the day and sending surprise bouquets to whatever room he was occupying at the time. I was working part-time, so I couldn’t do this every day, but it was my wish to send a roomful of fresh flowers every day if I could, but, I did full-bodied stems and bouquets which were quite refreshing. I honestly think they perked me up more than him when I walked into the rooms in the evenings.
Next, I would want to be visited on a frequent basis, so I did this at least once, but sometimes twice daily. It got to the point that I would walk into his room and he would be lying on his bed and whispers my name as soon as I walked in. I would always be surprised that he knew it was me. He would smile and say, “I know your walk”. Hmmm, this was very interesting.
Heading into the second week of February 2008 I waged a war against the hospital food. My thinking process was, if you are about to die, why do you need to watch your diet? Didn’t make any sense, so I would make a 12 noon call from my desk at my job and find out what we would indulge in that afternoon, yes we would have picnics on the down low. It was interesting, when you can eat what you want; you end up desiring the weirdest things. It was my honor, to dabble in a little of this junk food and a bit of different types of cheeses, breads and all other such foods.
I thank God for my hobo bag with spacious inside which I used to smuggle foods into those hospital rooms. He became a specialist at eating a picnic dinner with me in the evening and splitting it in two so that he would get enough for breakfast in the morning. It was a big joke between us, it was special as well. Will you have a picnic with me?
One of the specialties of these evening visits would be my foray into the hospital gift stores; those balloons and hand pint-sized bears were a special for me. I think those bears were more for me than him; I just thought that when I left at the end of the evening he would have a special friend close by.
One special memory I have of our picnic evenings is my math dilemma; I was in the middle of doing a final class for my degree. This is not my favorite topic, but I toted those books everywhere in an attempt to get the better of it. That Saturday I sat in the room, sitting on the window ledge reading the material and getting frustrated by the moment. I don’t believe he could even wrap his mind around the pain he was in much less to understand a mathematical formula, but he was determined to read the book and solve the problem. I acquiescent “just because”.
At this point, it was heading into the second week from the pronouncement and I had little funds, but was determined to see it through to the end. I dug into that 401K; what the heck, it’s only one life, right? Might as well do the best you can when you have the opportunity. Two weeks after the doctors had written him off as unstable for any transfer or other medical assistance, he passed; I think he was in a hurry to get it over and done with. And when he flat-lined, I pretty much dropped as well. You might be asking what I mean at this point; it takes something awful out of you to put on your best face every day and not think of yourself in the circumstances, but the needs of someone else. When that need is no longer there, what do you do with yourself? I crashed, emotionally.
But thank God that He allows you to go so far, but He also gives you the option of “Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7 KJV). I had to learn to refocus and throw that load upon God, because some might say you need to appropriate healing, but my God, I needed to get that load off my back. I threw it as hard and fast as I could upon Jesus’ shoulder; this gave me the grace to go through the logistics of the days following, but the grace of God is just so phenomenal that I don’t have the words to describe it. All I know is that God’s grace works.
Let me ask you, won’t you have a picnic with someone who have time today? Yes, someone who does have the time, because you might not have the chance to organize a picnic when time is running out.