As I think back to our days of waiting rooms and hospital smells, I remember the little things that helped carry us through it. God used many of you to help us see that suffering did not mean we were unloved, only that we were suffering.
I remember the meals, prayers, phone calls, cards and emails. Many thought to do these things, and each small gift nourished our family as we got along minute by minute.
There were other things that helped me through too, things I did not know to ask for or even know I needed them, until I received them and was blessed. But this is how I would have asked had I known how to do so.
Let me hide behind technology a little bit
Especially when Aggie had her intensive testing done and we were dealing with surgery, it became utterly exhausting to me to talk on the phone. I simply did not have the strength to share the details over and over again, to "keep it together" so that the person on the other end of the phone did not have to worry too much about how I was handling everything. I was suffering, and it was all I could do to put one foot in front of the other and keep doing what was in front of me. I blogged when I could, but had very little to say to people by phone. I appreciated that people seemed to understand that.
Take charge of little details
Someone tell me where I left my keys, and remind me to eat something. Someone decide for me what it is I might like to eat, and bring me to that place to get it.
Just be with me
It is not fun to be the person or family that reminds everyone of such an enormous sad thing. Some withdrew, and I understood, knowing that it was usually those who were carrying too much grief already to take mine on as well. Some loved us through it, even though it hurt them to do so-- love in a hospital room means sharing worry and grief-- those who were willing to have their hearts ache along with ours were pictures of grace and compassion to me.
Remind me what else is out thereDuring the weeks at Cleveland I remember feeling like our world had become so small. Everything was Aggie's condition, everything was hospital and worry and trial. Yet some who shared our grief were bold enough to share bits of their still normal lives with me too, and I was surprised at how I appreciated that. A funny story about what someones kid did that day, news from home or school that had nothing to do with us-- those were blessed reminders that life was still going on outside the hospital, and I could hope to join that world again someday. I had wanted to talk about something else, even just for a minute, but I had no idea what else there could be other than my sick child.
Acknowledge my pain and remind me of Hope
Don't deny my pain with cliches, but look it full in the face, and then tell me that Truth is still Truth. Tell me what I already know. Scripture or hymns, things I have heard a thousand times- I need to hear them again. Nothing fancy or profound, just the basic faith we share: Suffering is awful, but temporary, because Jesus loves us. Even when we hurt, we are safe in His love for us.
How about you, readers who have been in dark hospital rooms... What would you add to my list?