Pressing deeper into myself unlocks truths I wouldn’t in every day life attach a name to, like a blog post tag. As I reflect on a post written last year about sustaining others, I wondered, what sustains me? Where do I go? Last year, I asked how others sustained their loved ones. Always this outer focus on others because the self, my self is scarier in it’s uncharted waters.
I notice that when life gets rough, as it has been for the past month. I don’t pray for my situation. Instead, I pray for others. The calm is in the eye of the storm and it’s here that I keep myself. I don’t move so much as an inch outside of myself because I don’t want to get tangled up in the tumult. So much of what happens to us is out of our control – and lately, there’s been nothing I can do about it, except pray for others. That’s how I get through it.
Just this past Friday, my husband spent some time in the hospital to check out why his chest pain got worse. He’s being seen for a lot of things and we can’t seem to get this chest pain diagnosed. This isn’t the first time we’ve been in this situation. Two years ago, he had the same problem, the same issues and the same diagnosis. ??? That one.
I noticed something between that instance and this past one.
The first time, I was a stay at home mother. I had little Gabriel with me, his little hand in mine. As we stood there, in the door way to my husband’s room, I was panic-stricken. My eyes were wide as I watched nurses and technicians press buttons on machines and slap heart monitor stickers to his chest. Wires everywhere like garden snakes, and my big, strong husband lying on a gurney, I was silent. How did this happen? He takes care of me. I’m the one who gets sick. I’m the one who has the problems and he’s the one who carries me out of hospitals and nurses me to health. With this new vantage point, you would think that I would pray for his health, my peace, his safety, my boys. Instead, silence. My head is silent. My thoughts are silent. I can’t hear beeps or him tapping out that last email to work from his smart phone, letting his boss know he’ll be a little late. I just sit and watch like it’s a nature documentary, hoping for the commercial so I can take a minute to breathe. Shouldn’t I have been praying?
This past Friday, he called me at work and told me to come home. He never says “I need you”. When he does, I jump. I ripped my laptop from it’s base and didn’t even turn the lights off at my desk. My second cup of tea was left untouched. As I was driving home, I could feel the silence tearing the chatter in my head like paper. I could hear the crumpling of the “What-if’s?” and “How am I going to get through this?” as the silence tossed it away. Sitting there in the ER, with my boys happily and innocently playing games on their devices, I watched. I tried to listen to my own voice rattle around in my head, as I had before. But I didn’t pray. I don’t pray, in a crisis. Silence, is all there is and I tried to make it stay after we left the hospital that day, but it dissipated and was gone when I saw he was feeling better. The medicine wore off and he was in pain again, but the silence didn’t come. We were at home, and somehow, deep within myself I knew that there wasn’t another emergency coming. After all, they made sure he wasn’t and didn’t have a heart attack, and that was all I needed to hear. So the silence didn’t return. The incessant and nagging need to say “Are you ok?” or “How do you feel?” and “Can I get you something?” was all that I could muster. Inside, I was wondering what to make for dinner and the clothes I needed to get out for the boys; how I should vacuum and get some more milk from the store. And still, the not praying for my situation. The not praying for everything to be ok.
As I lay in bed listening to the sounds of darkness, I pray for my friends, for their families, for a stranger I walked past who looks like they’re tangled up in their torment, for people who have committed suicide, my grandmother’s soul, those who struggle with addiction, the list goes on and on. But I don’t pray for me. In fact, I never pray for me. I’m always the last on my list, and I am usually asleep long before I get to me. Always this focus on others, and not myself.
I pray that the silence would come back though, but not the storm it shares.