Monday, April 2, 2012

Returning Thanks

It was strange to return to Cleveland Clinic. 

We  passed a room, a hospital bed, a tired mother. I remembered:

We laid there, one small family in an enormous hospital. We had to be careful how we moved in that recovery bed because there were tubes and wires everywhere that helped her care team monitor her heart, lungs, blood pressure, oxygen level; that kept her hydrated and medicated as needed;
that slowly filled a deflated child with life and health.

--- Weak and Loved by Emily Cook

When we took Aggie there for testing that year, her seizures came hourly. There were almost no "normal" pieces of life left for her, or for us as a family. Everything was sickness. It was sucking the life from my little girl. And it had my heart in a vice.. squeezing it, so tightly. My chest ached.

When I took Aggie for her follow-up appointment two weeks ago, I remembered those feelings. And we walked down hallways with other people, sad people, people in the grips of horrible things; people desperate for help, just like we were.

That knowledge made me want to lower my voice.
To pray.
Lord, have mercy.
Bless the hands and the medicines and the minds at work here today.

Quiet, girls, there are people here with heavy hearts.
Can't you feel it?

But they couldn't feel it. They were giddy, on "vacation" with mommy. They worried about nothing but getting to the hotel and going for a swim.

I tried to reign them in, a little. They were too noisy, too wiggly to be in this place of trial. We sat in the waiting room, and I let the memories flood.  They played Foosball. They hid from me, and then begged me to "come see!" the fish in the aquariums.

But... can't you feel it? The sadness here?  

No, they really couldn't.
They were too childish.
Too... healthy.

The nurses didn't seem offended by them.
They smiled sweet smiles.

I began to see their girlish laughter not as an interruption, a profanity in a place like this, but as a shimmer of joy.  Hope, perhaps.
If people only knew why her laughter was so beautiful, in this place of all places.

Her tumor doctor knew, and she greeted us with a cheerful hug. She seemed relieved to see a patient with a good scan, who was only checking in, saying thanks.

Aggie handed her my book.
I had signed it, and asked Aggie to sign it too.
Aggie not only signed it, but filled the entire first page with wild Aggie drawings. Perfect.

I told the doctor it was our thanks, a gift: Aggie's story, a story that ends with this healthy, laughing child.
We had just passed a bald child in the hallway, walking with his mother, connected to an IV pole. I thought of the sadness this doctor must carry as she cares for her patients each day.

I hope her story is an encouragement to you. We are so glad you do what you do.

She hugged me.

Health enjoyed, health restored, did not need to be hidden in this place.
It is health mixed with hope, joy, and thanksgiving.

As we enjoyed yet one more day of Aggie-health, we thanked God for it, and thanked everyone we could find at Cleveland Clinic.  I pray that we were a blessing to some, in that place that has been such a blessing to us.

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  1. Emily, this post was wonderful! Your talent with words is remarkable. I will forever be grateful to God and the doctors for Aggies good health.

  2. We spent time at children's hospital in Omaha with our middle one some years ago. Strange lump on his wrist that turned out to be arthritis. But he was put on medicine that required regular blood tests and a couple follow up visits. My heart went out to the parents wandering the halls, waiting in uncomfortable chairs, holding on to less than healthy children. I can't see how you and your family could be anything but a blessing and a hope for other families.

  3. What a beautiful post and testimony. I really enjoy reading your blog!

  4. Such a perfect description of that hospital visit with the girls. I could feel that walk through the halls with you.


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