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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

fresh bread in the morning

The bread I sleep with tonight is savory. It is a recipe passed down straight from Abraham’s hands. It should be noted, however, that the relaying might be somewhat terse due to exhaustion.

The last week could probably best be described as a roller coaster ride of consolation and desolation, but yesterday and today are perhaps some of the clearest examples of the apex and nadir.

I got a call yesterday morning just before leaving for church that my mother had developed a UTI and was being transferred to ICU for observation. It was a calm call, but I decided to leave church early and head over to the hospital. I ended up not doing that because my sister was closer, so she went before me, but had to leave for a few hours around 1:30. I arrived then and she left. Shortly after she left, my mother developed a severe case of the shivers (due to reduction of fever) and suffered a rather intense “anxiety attack” with very distressing physical manifestations. I was summarily kicked out of the room to worry in the waiting room as they paged various doctors.

Unfortunately, no one came to tell me that I could go back in, so some of that worry was unnecessary. Finally, I went back to the room only to be stopped by the nurse and told to be very quiet in the room as they did not want my mother to be stimulated.

Of course, after I entered, my mother asked for me to remove her blanket and give her ice chips. My wish to provide for her needs caused me to be reprimanded by yet another nurse for “disturbing” my mom. I sat quietly only to have her ask me for something else. I finally told my mother that I was going to go out of the room because they really wanted her to sleep. At this point, I felt pretty low. I was angry at the nurses for making me feel like I was causing my mother distress (whereas she was actually already distressed about things, but they weren’t there to help her), but I also agreed that my presence in the room WAS causing her to remain stimulated. I didn’t know what to do.

Still shaken from witnessing my mother’s episode, but afraid that my presence could actually end up causing a heart attack, I went out to the parking lot to try to decide what to do. After talking it over with my husband, I decided to go take care of some details at my mother’s house then return home as my sister would be arriving at the hospital within an hour or so of my departure. But, I didn’t leave right away. I closed the car windows, started the car, turned on the A/C, and proceeded to lie across the front seats and release wrenching sobs into the upholstery. I felt guilt that every time an episode happened with my mother, it seemed to be after I had left when my sister was not coming to take my place (the first episode, which I may tell about at some other time, occurring in the 43 minutes it took me to take care of my mother’s banking because she was actually sound asleep). I shouldered the weight of a self-wrought jinx, convinced that my mother might die, and that this was somehow related to whether I stayed at the hospital or left. And yet, I was drawn to the certainty that I had to leave. As I pulled out of the parking space, I did so with the knowledge that, should something happen to my mother, I would always feel like it was somehow my fault – no matter the illogic.

Abraham actually took hold of the knife to slay his beloved son before God called out to him to stop.

When my sister arrived at the hospital some time later, she presented our concerns to the nurse in regards to staying or leaving. She asked for advice. The nurse, after clearly stating that she hated advising families about what they should do, said that if it were her family, she would stay. She said that my mother was septic and her blood pressure was very low, and the ensuing twenty-four hours would be touch and go.

My sister took the first shift. I took over at midnight and stayed through morning. At that point, her blood pressure had been stable for almost 12 hours (though still lower than normal). My mother was coherent and alert (yes, even for most of the night, sleeping only fitfully). She encouraged me to go home during the change of shifts (the only slices of time where visiting patients is not allowed in the ICU – 3 hours in the morning, an hour and a half at night), and even said I should take a little time before coming back.

My sister ended up coming back for the next shift, and I arrived this afternoon to find my mother, looking the best she has looked since the surgery, full with the news that she had finally been allowed clear liquids. While I was there, she had her first solid food. She was most definitely feeling herself again.

Gen 22:13a Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son.

If Abraham had not been prepared to sacrifice his son, would a caught ram have borne such significant value?

If I had not gone through the moments of deepest desolation, would a simple plate of hospital food have ever been capable of producing such joy in my heart?

Sometimes the greatest consolation comes from knowing that the deepest depths can be braved if God is at your side – and knowing that more fully because you don’t have to brave them at all.

At this time, my mother is still in ICU, but things look very promising, and we hope to see her back in a regular room by tomorrow.



  • I think you are so right when you say, "If I had not gone through the moments of deepest desolation, would a simple plate of hospital food have ever been capable of producing such joy in my heart?"

    It sounds like such a scary journey you have been on with your mother and sister. I'm glad God was at your side.

    By Blogger Mary-LUE, at 7:29 AM  

  • P.S. Thanks for giving us an update. I've been thinking about you!

    By Blogger Mary-LUE, at 7:29 AM  

  • *nodding*

    May the healing continue.

    *sending more prayers for all*

    By Blogger Mel, at 8:42 AM  

  • I think you have hit on the best and amazing perspective. Many continued thoughts for you.

    By Blogger Julie Pippert, at 9:08 AM  

  • How's the mom?
    How's the daughter holding up?

    *thinking about ya*

    By Blogger Mel, at 9:49 AM  

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