Journal Entry: April 3, 2001
I reached into the cart and found the rolled up gown. I put it on along with the powder-blue barrier gloves. As I walked into her room I knocked softly and eased open the door, noticing again the sign warning of her risk of infection. She had her eyes closed and I thought she was asleep. It was a fitfull rest. She muttered about painting the walls and then started fussing as the nurses coarse voice blared over the bedside intercom.
The sun shone through the windows and warmed the room slighly above the familiar chill of the hospital. I heard a noise and noticed the air rushing from her lips, causing her cheeks to rapidly vibrate, making a sound like a horse after it's whinny. She quietly lamented that she was cold. I spoke to her.
Mammaw opened her eyes and looked at me. I silently showed her the picture of Caleb, her fresh great-great-grandson. I didn't know if she still would find familiarity in my face. As I reflected her gaze, she looked at me like she had fully expected to see me on this Tuesday afternoon. I felt guilty that I hadn't been to see her since August.
We talked for a while, and I think she knew that I didn't know what to say. My reality had been assaulted by her condition. She softly spoke that it made such a difference that I was just being there...in that moment.
Her foot was alone outside of the thin blanket and I tried to cover it up. I was afraid to touch her. I didn't know if I might hurt her, or if I might take some stow-away germ back to my newborn son. And then I decided it didn't matter. The value of touch was worth more than life. Besides, I had those powder-blue gloves on. I commented to her that I must look like a clown in my robe and gloves. She gave me a slight smile and chuckle.
She showed me her tongue... it had blisters on it. Her arms were bruised from countless needle sticks. She was 91 years old. Reality slams me that she was once 6 months old, just like my son. She was once tiny and new. I'm now wondering why time spends us and leaves us? I asked her if she was lonely?
Her eyes met mine and spoke more than my ears have ever heard. She then told me that she missed her mom and daddy so badly, she sometimes couldn't bear the thought. My heart tore in two. I told her of Caleb's recent dedication in church. I told her how much I loved and appreciated her. I told her that I am who I am because of the life she gave.
I asked her if I could pray for her. I had never prayed at her side before, although she had prayed at my side when I had been sick. I recovered that day. I prayed and thanked Jesus for her choices, her dedication, her witness. I prayed that I could carry on her legacy.
She told me she was dying. She fixed my eyes and told me that my life had meaning--that I wasn't here just to live. She told me that deep inside me I have a power to be a healer. She said she had always seen it. I must be watchful and pray to know when to use it. I strive to always watch.
In room 281 it could be hard to find hope. Her meals were liquid from a can, she was contemplating her death and missing her daddy. She knew alone. Yet she found hope. She had within her a secret.
I covered her shoulders and tore myself from the room. I felt my heart shatter while my soul wept. How beautiful she is. How cruel reality can be. How amazing it is when hope can enter a room. Even a blue-powder barrier room numbered 281.