Waiting.



Patience is not a thing that comes easily to me.
It’s a hard-learned quality that I still struggle to grasp firmly…
I hate delay..hate the pause…the uncertainty that the wait entails.

But nevertheless, here we are again.

We’ve lived pause and isolation before. Oh, more times then I can be bothered to count.

When our sunchild became ill and overnight turned into a shade-seeker we stepped out of the race.
Hid from the light.
The threat of exposure, sunlight or illness, was too costly for her.
She was defenceless and we had  need to retreat from the world, from life to an extent and re-write our normal.

When depression and pain reared its ugly head again and again…we stood back once more.
Retreating from loved ones and acquaintances alike.

It took everything to keep one foot moving in front of the other.. Years lived this way…this half-life.

Then one day the disease lost its grip letting go of our girl… Light returned to her smile.

Later on, the depression and rage left home.  Slowly but surely new life has been found on the wings of faith and
in the arms of friends … we stood tall again..finding our feet, our breath. Shaken and bruised but redefined through the hardship into something stronger.

So it seems like a mean trick and the worst possible timing this current season of shaking and stirring…

The whole earth appears to be trembling…a global pandemic..a virus.  Unseen before and we are all taken off guard..ill-prepared.

Gods fall all around us and take with them any semblance of security.Stockmarkets plummet, unemployment skyrockets.
Its hard to tell whether the real threat is an illness or the fear it infests us all with.

We are left stunned and helpless in the face of a storm set to swallow the earth as we know it…

Meanwhile, this child that once overcame a beast is showing signs of relapse…

The strain of the last yr has taken its toll on all of us. But this child, My strong silent girl with a brave face to rival any warrior is struggling …it starts with pain unspoken.

My mummas eyes are trained to see the hints no one else but her big sister sees. These clues are seared into the recesses of our being we know them on some primal instinctive level. 

Rashes follow.
A butterfly flush stretches across her creamy white cheeks..encircling both beautiful hazel eyes and stretch down to her chin. It’s been coming and going for a while but now comes and lingers longer then I can stand…

This flush is pure anger – blood boiling vessels and capillaries raging with inflammation that circulates through her system…tearing and shredding at her muscles..her joints ..her organs and skin.

For an invisible disease, the visible ruins me.

She doesn’t play her guitar much any more. Her hands ache and while she hasn’t said anything…the lack of music from behind her door tells the tale. I have become home sick for the sound of plucked and strummed melodies.

A blood draw confirms my fear and my heart braces, knees crumble and I am found again on my face calling heaven down around her demanding the light return and banish the beast for once and for all.

There’s no other beside me this time. No shoulder to brace myself on or hand to grip when fear beckons after dark.
When my mind runs rings around itself..and all I have is prayer.

I find myself on my knees,prayers constantly falling from my lips.They drop as desperate laments, sprout wings and reach heavens ears in a stream of constant overflow.

Communion unending breathes faith back into the dark space between fact and truth and I am tethered to heavens heart again.

I’ve come to realise I can’t stop the onslaught. Life is in lockdown as the threats around us magnify.

But in this place of waiting…

Waiting to see how just how firmly that beast has tightened its grip on this child….

Waiting to see if she’ll shake it again or is this to be war once more?

Of waiting out the tremors of the world around us. For this pandemic to burn out…

Waiting for friends and family homes and hands to be safe reprieve again…

To see what tomorrow holds for our little reshaped family… I’m relearning the art of patience…

I remember learning once before to count blessings. How doing so drove out the darkness and summoned the light.

To fix my eyes beyond the storm clouds, and gaze above the waves.

A season of slow down offers much to one whos willing to see it… but mostly it offers time.

Priceless time.

The chance to remaster old arts.

To do those things I never seem to have time for and notice the small.

If you take the time to see and have the inkling  to look a little closer there’s such beauty in the mundane.

Magic can be found even in the fog of uncertainty if we find the grace enough to see it.

Forced stillness can be therapeutic…

Home can hold the heart and laughter of carefree faith given space enough to be.

Unrushed days and easy nights are in fact perfections.

After all, some times schedules can serve to suffocate.

Isolation it seems minimises complication..permits real rest…

Perhaps the timing I thought so bad is in fact blessed?
It’s not a stretch to see that deep rest could herald deeper healing.

And then I remember…
Last year when life hit so hard I couldn’t breathe and time insisted on ticking by with so many commitments I felt drowned I prayed that it would slow… stop even..long enough to catch my breath.

And here we are.

Time stands almost still once behind our door. Life hit pause and only the garden changes around us.

This time around I’ll seek the joy in the mess.
I’ll resist the urge to be swayed by the trembling of all around us…
I’ll stay on my knees and hold tight to heavens hand when fear creeps back.

I’ll embrace the wait with faith enough to know healing is hers and we’ll rise again.

We may be shaken and bruised a little but refined some more and stronger somehow for our trouble.

Patience is an art form that it seems I have time enough to learn.

 

 

Broken

I’m in the Emergency Department in a 4-bedded room partitioned with long grey curtains … I followed the ambulance here that came to collect my dad.

Dad is in a lot of pain… and despite the buzz in here, everything is moving frustratingly slowly.

The bed beside us has a lady. She is my mother’s age. Short brown-grey hair with magenta streaks and slippers with holes in the toe. She has come in because she blacked out and fell splitting her head open. She blacked out because she has a drug addiction … Endone… Oxycontin and whatever else she can manage to swing a script for. There was a valid reason she started down this road. A fall left her damaged..but now she’s hooked. The meds have swallowed her up. She’s crying because her partner has left in a huff. Probably over it. She fell just now trying to get out of bed and is so high she can’t stand properly or speak in full sentences … She’s got this high pitched breathy cry…Like a soft wail from someone who’s totally given up the fight.No light in those eyes… Bloodshot red-ringed melancholy. Sunken behind heavy lids. The social worker notices a slit across her wrist. The lady doesn’t know how it got there.

In the bed across from her is a diabetic lady. My age or maybe a little older.Pretty rounded face. Dark skin. She’s hooked up to something pumping life back into her arm and is silently resting in the bed. Her feet are visible between the gap in the curtains… One shoe on, one off. Her toes on the barefoot are swollen and there are sores visible around the nails. The nurses ask her when she last checked her sugar levels? Her feet? How is her diet? She can’t remember. She doesn’t bother with that stuff. She’s vacant and distracted. I wonder if she realizes what she’s risking by not paying attention? Or maybe she doesn’t care? Shes a frequent flyer here it seems.

The next bed held an old homeless man. Somewhat deaf. Incontinent, no shoes… Cellulitis, gangrene and coming off a high…His legs were thinner than my 7-year-olds. No shoes. No shirt. It is cool out tonight. I wonder if anyone is missing him? He hurts a lot…I know this cause he moaned a lot… He’s gone now moved to another bed.

A man my father’s age has slid into his spot. Well dressed but unkept. He is chatty but slurring heavily. Hes had a night of binge drinking. He is an epileptic and has had several seizures since being brought in …..when he is conscious he tries hard to sweet talk the nurses…They all know him it seems. Perhaps this is a regular Midweek evening for him? The nurses are kind and respectful. But when they leave his expression shifts to one of blank emptiness…More dark eyes.

Another hour passes and this beds resident changes again. This time a man a little older than me. Bone cancer. He is here because he has server pain…He’s also an epileptic..a drug addict and homeless. His “friends” stole his pain meds and seizure meds so he’s been a few days without them… and judging by the look of it its been even longer between a bed and a meal. He asks the nurses to please leave the lights on and not pull the curtains, he is afraid of the dark. He needs tranquilizers to sleep and fights the heavy eyes until the medications kick in and he’s out cold, unconscious but it doesn’t last long. These are the darkest eyes in this place. He holds my gaze once or twice before looking away. I see the darkness that he fears isn’t caused by the night outside but the haunting that’s happening inside his mind. He cuts a ghoulish figure. All angles, and no color. It is hard to believe there is life there at all. Just a boney frame draped in the white hospital blanket.

Then there’s Dad. We came in at just the right time. He went down quickly. They have taken blood and the usual barrage of testing that leukemia patients are given when they have a crisis. The tests have been sent to the lab and now we wait. It took 2 hrs for the pain relief to take the edge off enough so he could lay still and he has finally stopped vomiting unless he has to move and then it starts again. The last two bags were stained brown and red. He saw and tried to tell me it was the lamb he ate yesterday so I wouldn’t worry… But it’s blood and stomach lining. His temps up a bit but the fluids are running now and while its buzzing in here with machines and nurses exhaustion wins and he has finally fallen into a light sleep. Only to be woken by screaming in the next cubicle along.

A young girl screams and then two men’s voices and running footsteps fill the air as the cavalry arrives. It seems her boyfriend has flipped. The drugs override his humanity and he lashed out a stabbed a security guard. He’s screaming now as they struggle to restrain him. He screams that he is a victim. He needs water. He’s having a stroke- according to him, he can’t breathe. But yet can still scream for what feels like close to an hour ..promises not to spit on them again.. Just “please let me go” he begs over and over. Oh God, please don’t let them untie him!

She, the girl, is sobbing onto the shoulder of a nurse who consoles her. She is very young and looks pregnant but I could be mistaken. I want to tell her to run. Leave and don’t look back. She’s scared of her man that’s easy to see. A lot of us are tonight as he rages and rants. For someone who is breathless, he’s sure got some lungs.

They decide to keep dad in and call upstairs for a bed. More tests and scans. He will stay in this place until a bed opens up on the ward. That might not be until tomorrow.

I stay a little longer.

It’s pushing 3 am now and my car is a billion miles away in the carpark. Dad insists I go and get some sleep. I’m told I’ll need an escort to my car but I’ll have to wait a while as security is “busy” out front. “Best stay inside a bit longer,” they say.

Security stays busy and two wardsmen are asked to take me out the back way. I ask these men if this is the norm. “It is” they reply. They are eager to share the frustrations with me. The guard who was stabbed tonight was attacked last week too. This hospital, a Cancer Center, is also the home for Mental health and toxicology. The demand on the ED vast outways its resources and the staff bear the brunt of the issues.

I drive home in the early morning hours. The streets are empty save a few rough sleepers and I’m weighed down by the helplessness I feel for my father and the dark eyes that held mine tonight. This is my definition of hell… A place without hope, a total absence of light….and I wonder how this story ends? How do you inject hope into hopelessness… What’s the solution?

More money? Will more awareness and a better funding packet be enough to rescue this humanity? Has it ever been enough before?

What drives us to chase escape? What lie do we believe so wholeheartedly that it consumes us until there is nothing left? What is it that blinds our eyes and seals our hearts closed to each other’s plight. Each to their own..no hand to hold to pull us through and up and out again.

What has to be broken in us for us to accept this as all there is? Dark eyes hold no hope of freedom, no escape.

I won’t accept this fate. This lie that says this is all life holds. That we can’t change our fate or even change our very stars.

There is more. I know this. I’ve walked these halls before and even amongst the darkness tasted and seen the beauty that calls us to come out of the shadows. The whisper that calls us by name to hunt down that light that will chase out our dark.

The only way to beat this hopelessness is with hope itself. To overrun darkness with light.

To walk as light bearers arms stretched out wide. All-embracing, outrageously loving…to offer hands of grace to the falling and speak life over the graves.

I’ve realized that courage to brave foolishness is what’s required..its not steely resolve but surrended vulnerability that breeds connection…births hope .

Hope is a life raft that promises a better tomorrow.Love is the only ransom that buys back the stolen.