Can you think of a time in your life when despite a rough, stressful season you could still see God working and helping you through it all? Maybe you would consider it a time of grace in your life?
In the last year and a half there have been three times where relatives have been in the hospital for extended times, as well as relatives being in the ER for various reasons. I’ve come to know my way around the hospital pretty well. Being there also brings back memories since it is the same hospital where I used to be a candy-striper/volunteer for many years back in the day! That was certainly a highlight in my life where I got to meet many people and help others.
Times when loved ones are in the hospital and there are so many unknowns of what is going to happen are tough. It is definitely an opportunity to pray for the person individually and to ask others to join you in prayer for your loved one.
During times like this, it can also be stressful to be there to support the person yet be there for your immediate family. But, they can also be times of experiencing God’s grace and love. This was definitely what I experienced this past April and May.
My father in law was in the hospital for a total of 32 days followed by 7 days in a local rehab place. He ended up having two abdominal surgeries within 9 days.
The first surgery seemed to go really well, and he was even up and walking the same day! But, as time went on, things weren’t progressing as expected internally, so they did the second surgery.
The second surgery did not go so well. The doctors were really only able to open him up, and shortly after, just stitched him up, because he started bleeding too much. The doctors were unable to see well enough to do anything. That was pretty devastating to think they couldn’t fix him anymore, and we were unsure where that would leave him.
We really thought we were going to lose my father-in-law this time because they couldn’t do the second surgery and because his mind was not functioning properly after that surgery. He was “seeing” things that weren’t there….like mashed potatoes hanging from the ceiling! He was not too coherent and couldn’t remember too much. He even thought he was on a boat! We really thought his mind was not going to be “normal” again. This went on for many days.
Thankfully, he gradually came back around to the guy we knew. It was really hard to see him struggle so much, lose his strength and especially his mind for so long. But, somehow he bounced back slowly. He was so weak that he had to go to rehab for a week to regain some strength. We were truly blessed that there was a local place that had an opening for him. Finally, he was ready to try returning to home with the help of a walker.
My in-laws have a total of seven kids, three of which are local, one about 1 1/2 hrs away and three in Massachusetts. It is always so remarkable to see all through the years that all the families get along well and support each other, especially in being there for their parents to aid them in whatever way they can.
With the local families around, it seemed people were always there to support my in laws and try to help pass the long days in the hospital. It seemed someone was always there visiting my father-in-law, trying to fill his time and eventually to try to get his mind working again. We would bring trivia questions to help stimulate his mind, ask him crossword puzzles, since he couldn’t even write at the time, and the likes.
Celebrating Mother’s Day 2014 at the Rehab Courtyard.
Things were slow going when he was finally able to come home, and we still wondered if he would return to a normal lifestyle, but we are so thankful that he was pretty much back to normal after a good three months. It has really amazed us all to see how far he came. Family members took up the mowing and house duties that he was not able to do.
For me, this time of grace seems magnified because I was able to share it with a friend as well. It was really one of those God-incidents that at the same time my father-in-law was in the hospital, I ended up finding out a friend’s mother, who I had never met, was in the same hospital. A little prompting inside me had me go visit her mom’s room once I found out. Quite the opposite from our situation that had lots of local people to support them, this friend was really the only one there for her mother. Her one sister lives out of town. So I really felt compelled to visit my friend most every time when I would visit my father-in-law. Being there to listen to my friend and share in her journey and show I cared really blessed me. It was kind of a special bond that strengthened our friendship. It was also a joy to meet her mother who was a very special, sweet lady. I felt blessed to have met her even for such a short time. Every time I would visit, she too, would ask about how my father in law was. Despite her condition, she cared about someone she never even met.
When my friend’s mother went to a nursing home for a few days before reentering the hospital a second time, it just didn’t feel the same not being able to visit her. It was hard to see my friend’s mom’s health decline before our eyes and at the beginning of May she ended up dying. But, I feel my life was enriched and graced through knowing her for such a short time. Meeting my friend’s sister was also a blessing and it seemed like we’d known each other forever. It was my privilege to attend the funeral for this family and try to show my love and support for what they were going through. The same day of the funeral, I was suppose to go out of town to attend a conference, but I knew I wanted to share in the funeral instead. I truly was so blessed through being there and the luncheon after with the family.
Photo credit by DRAMOS19 under Creative Common License (CC BY 2.0)
It was special to see how my friend was there all the time for her mother….to see that special bond between a mother and her daughter. I know it was hard for my friend to leave her family and three children home so much during her mom’s hospitalization, but she did what she had to do at the time…be there for her mother. I know their Easter was not quite the same this year, but my friend was sharing in her mother’s journey at the time.
I am so thankful for this time of grace that accompanied the sharing of the hard struggles of seeing people suffer. Trying to be there to support one another and help in whatever small way are such blessings in our lives, and God is always there to provide what we need.
Let us approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. –Hebrews 4:16