February 16, 2009
“Can you wake her up…?” he muffled, his head buried in his hands, his elbows planted on his knees.
Something was wrong.
Her chest was not rising.
I gently grabbed for her wrist, hoping to feel a pulse. Then I placed my fingers on the side of her neck. There was none.
“What is it?” alarmed, he approached his wife’s bed.
I didn’t know how to say it. “I don’t think she’s breathing…”
“What?” he took a step back. His hands grasped his forehead, attempting to compose himself, as if ready to explode. “What do you mean, ‘she’s not breathing‘… she was just awhile ago…But she’s still warm!”
“WHAT?! That’s it?!” He shouted. “So that’s how it goes? She’s gone now?!” He was a mess of emotions. Angry one moment, helpless the next. “But she looked so peaceful..she was just sleeping…” He paced the room. “No, I wasn’t ready for this….”
Finally, love broke open.
“Sweetheart!” he cried out. He ran over to her, fresh tears streaming now, dripping onto her face as he leaned over her bed. Forehead touching forehead, he kissed her motionless lips. “You didn’t know how much I loved you… I didn’t get a chance to tell you how much I loved you…” He stroked her hair and caressed her face.
He lifted his head and looked at me across the room. “She was the only girl I’ve ever dated…”
I walked to his side of the bed and placed my hand on his shoulder.
“… and the only girl I’ve ever loved.”
~ ~ ~
Getting ready to go home, I gathered my belongings slowly. Did I let him down? Should I have given him more warning when death was coming? But I didn’t expect it to come so soon myself. How could things have been different? What more could I have done?
Putting on my sweatshirt, I set my lunchbag on the table, beside a box of chocolates and a card.
“Whose is that?” I asked my coworker.
“Mr. A brought it by to thank all the staff,” she answered.
I searched for his name and face inside my memory, trying to recall which patient he was.
“You mean.. he’s alive?!”
“Yeah, he got his transplant, you didn’t know?! He just walked this gift up to us and was discharged home today.”
Hoping to see him, in the flesh, I dashed into the hallway and ran towards the elevator lobby. But he had already left the floor; I just missed him.
I returned back to the staff lounge and quickly tore open the envelope.
leading up to the transplant. You gave us so much compassion and
care and it made all the difference. He is doing well now and is up
and running! Thank you from the kindness of our hearts.
Sweets for the sweet!
~Best, Mr. and Mrs. A.”
I blinked twice, unsure if my eyes were fooling me.
So he received his New Year wish! This entire time I thought he had died.
But he was alive. Very alive.
~ ~ ~
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.”
-Lamentations 3:22-23 ESV