I ran into an old friend yesterday. By "friend" I mean someone that I love dearly, whom I feel a deep and instant bond with. She and I have never gone shopping or sat down over a cup of coffee or even talked on the phone. But we've shared tears of sorrow and anguish. We've rejoiced together in little baby steps of healing. After years of not seeing one another, our hearts still understand.
Chris and I were hospital neighbors. In the long, painful days of devastating illness. Moise and her son, Jack, were next door to each other in the Pediatric ICU. At approximately the same age, our boys teetered in that place that seemed to be somewhere between life and death. Hour upon hour we sat carressing our boy's prone forms amongst the array of tubes, needles and machines. Beeping alarms and swooshing ventilators became our background music. We knew what every sound meant and learned to know our boys' health status by the blazing numbers blinking from the machines. Moise struggled for every breath of air. Jack struggled against cruel seizures that twisted and contracted his body. Both of them were in an exhausting pattern of one step forward and two steps back. We both had really bad days and not so bad days. We both cried oceans of tears, for our sons and for each other. We both were stripped, bare and raw, of everything but the sanctity of life.
Each of our rooms were surrounded by three walls. The front of both rooms was made up of a large sliding door of windows with a curtain that could be pulled for privacy. Nurses sat right outside our rooms, watching every beep, every breath. There was a horizontal window, approximately 4 ft by 2 ft, in the wall that separated Moise's ICU room from Jack's. By that window, we knew when things were good or bad and when there was a need for privacy. Most of all, through that window, we observed the unshakeable love, diligence and perseverance of motherhood.
Jack, like Moise, continues to struggle developmentally and medically. Although their challenges are dramatically different, life has not been fair to either of them.
When I saw my friend, my heart embraced her. I could see, in her eyes, the weariness and worry of years of caring for a fragile son. I asked if she and her husband ever have help with Jack. But I already knew the answer. He's not so little anymore and that makes finding help so much harder. I saw in her the fatigue, the love, the sadness, the joy, the strength, the loneliness. It's all there, etched into her soul. She didn't need to speak it. I saw it. I know it. I get it. In Anne of Green Gables fashion, she's like a bosom friend.
As we parted, my heart was grateful. Grateful that our paths crossed once again. Grateful to know her. Grateful for the strength that emanated from her.
Some of the most beautiful people that I know, I know because of the challenges of life.
God is good, all the time.