Friday's theme: Messengers
Most every day I am humbled. I work in Family Support at Egleston’s children’s hospital. Mainly I work on the cardiac units (ICU and Acute Care). Day after day, I encounter families in perhaps the hardest chapters of their lives. There are patients ranging in age from one-day old infants to 21-year-old young folks. Most every day as I walk the halls, offering chocolate and encouragement, I am humbled by the courage and the kindnesses, the strength and generosity. Some days I am humbled by patients and families, some days by colleagues.
Twice now I’ve participated in an Honor Walk on the Pediatric ICU. When there is nothing more that can be medically done for a patient, the family is offered the choice of donating their child’s organs to another person. There is a practice called, an Honor Walk in which the staff line both sides of the hallway as the child and family are escorted from the PICU to harvest the organs. Twice now I’ve stood with nurses and techs, with unit secretaries and doctors, with housekeeping and social workers, with child life therapists and officers from security as the chaplain accompanies the family from the hospital. Twice now the only sound I could hear was weeping. Then the door closes behind the family. After a minute or two the Egleston staff slowly, quietly heads back to our units and our work. I believe many of us are praying for a miracle for the next family.
Recently after the second time I’d witnessed the Walk, I started back to continue my day. I just couldn’t quit crying. It was the day before Sam’s 19th birthday. Walking down the hallway I felt an arm drape over my shoulders and a big, strong hand gently squeeze my arm. It was Brad, an engineer that I know a little bit from passing in the halls. We walked side-by-side in the quiet. And when it was time for us to go our separate ways, I turned and thanked him. He said he was glad to do it and walked on.
The next day, he stopped me in the hall and said, “I need to tell you something that I realized yesterday after the Walk. Not long ago you told me a story about one of the cardiac families and you ended it with, `It’s the least we can do.’ Yesterday when you thanked me for walking with you, I wished I’d said to you `It is the least I can do.’ That feels more accurate and more true to me.” Then he nodded and smiled, squeezed my arm and walked on.
Messengers are all around us. Sometimes they share a bold revelation. Sometimes they tell us things we already know. It’s the least we can do is more often than not exactly what needs to be done at the time.
"Time is different here," I heard my Mom's voice say a couple months after her death. Journeying through these Covid-19 days, remind me of the gift of those words. You are invited companion me on this 2020 Advent journey to Bethlehem, as we seek Emmanuel, God who promises always to be with us.