The ER is bustling, as usual. After taking my info, I am asked to sit and wait until a bed is ready. I sit, wishing I brought a mask for germ protection, as I watch a man walk in and not make it through registry before suddenly throwing up into a waste can. The receptionist rushes to get him a pan. I find it incredibly ironic to be sent to a hospital emergency room because I might have a low white count and no immune system only to be exposed to violently sick people.
I bring my attention to God’s presence and feel calm even if breathing shallowly to avoid sucking in germs. I remain at the entrance; each time the door opens a fresh chill settles over me. I guess I prefer chilly over the other end of the room where sickness hangs out with cuts needing stitches. I’m compassionately aware of the river of humanity flowing before me: a woman grimaces with back pain, a young boy proudly holds a rag-wrapped cut finger, a belligerent elderly woman with high blood pressure demands her gentle hubby wheel her closer to the desk so no one gets ahead of her, a young man hovers in the lobby, two young men join him – cheers of ‘new dad’ follow with hugs, the dry heaving man lies down across chairs, a baby cries, an orderly explains why someone else is taken before me, nurses and doctors rush about, the receptionist registers those in line while keeping one eye on rows of security monitors. I hear Jay’s breathing beside me. I hold each soul with me in the Presence.
When my name is finally called, I try to keep up with the fast walking nurse leading me down a hallway littered with beds and equipment. She disappears. Light headed, I do my best to speed up. I find her in a room, motioning me to sit on the bed.
Thousands of questions, forms, exams, and an incredible number of tubes of blood later, an IV fluid line protrudes from my chest, via the medi-port. I thank God for Jack, a huge-but- gentle nurse, and for the medi-port, even though my arm got stuck for blood too. I usually have to lift my arm to get blood to flow from the medi-port, but Jack managed without any effort on my part, and without any needle pains either. His skill is much appreciated, though Jay and I couldn’t help exchanging an exasperated smile at the amount of blood drawn, knowing the cancer center would have simply pricked my finger, counted my white cells and sent me home. Maybe the ER was short of blood and I volunteered mine. I didn’t bother reading all the stuff I signed!
At one point, we amused ourselves by guessing what time we’d be home, and by comparing a finger prick to a chest x-ray, and IV line, a urine analysis and multiple blood tests. When our amusement began turning into disgruntlement, we turned on the TV. DeGreen was right about the torture part, torture to the wallet for sure.
Jay settles into watching TV; I listen to my IV line pump. The soft, steady sound transports me back to December’s hospital stay, and a time of being exquisitely held near the heart of God. As before, the pulsating sound becomes holy, as a living Presence, the very breath of God, Divine lungs breathing in and out, in and out, so near. I am connected to the Source of life, by a direct line, literally and spiritually. I am enfolded, sustained by grace, by tender power and humble strength. I feel completely nourished, needing nothing more.
The hours pass. I drift in and out of communion with God. Gratitude fills my heart: for each nurse, each doctor, each test, for my dear partner who loves me through every moody, awful cycle of prednisone withdrawal, for living in a country with good hospitals and medical professionals, for not having to wait all day to be examined, for our health insurance, for being wealthy enough to be where I am and not home dying of untreated cancer.
In this moment, surrounded by Love, I realize how I expected this cycle to be a happy celebration of passing the half-way-through-chemo-treatment milestone. Instead, I got worsening side effects and fever. Instead of happy, I feel angry. I have to go through the same amount as I’m come through. Lurking beneath my anger is fear. I’m afraid I won’t hold out. I’m starting to dread treatment, starting to want this to be over, starting to wish each moment held something different. These emotions catch me off guard. I thought I could count on my inner strength. This unsettles me further. If a simple emotion can upend me, how will I cope if cancer doesn’t go into remission? Upcoming CT scans will reveal the truth and I’m afraid to know.
I am here, sweetheart.
I hear the soft, rhythmic purring. God breathes with me in deep, loving breaths, in and out, in and out. I never bristle when God calls me sweetheart. I feel loved, completely at home in this moment. I have everything I need.
“Consider the lilies of the field. They neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own.” Jesus, in Matthew 6
Sharon’s response: “Well, then, help me dress like a lily! I desire God and love, and what gives me life, what really matters. I want to be clothed in ‘living true’, in ‘living with integrity’, in being ‘present to others in love’ rather than dwelling in worry, fear, anger. Is that what you mean by consider the lily?”