Yes, I called you by name but.....you don't know me, and I don't know you.....I just know your name because I had heard the nurse call you while we were sitting in the ER waiting room together. Do you remember that day? It was the day before Christmas Eve, and there was a horribly vicious flu going around that year. Apparently, this particular strain of the flu virus wasn't covered in the vaccine, which made it particularly rampant.....and I could tell that that was the reason you were there that day.
You were already in the ER when I arrived. I came in with my parents, both of whom needed to be seen for other things that morning. I saw you sitting there in a wheelchair, in your pajamas, with a lined trash can in your lap....just in case. I never saw your face, because you held your head in your hands the entire time. Two women were with you. By the looks of it, I assumed they were your mother and grandmother, all 3 of you wearing face masks, as were we. In fact, there wasn't one person in that whole ER without a mask, either to contain their own germs, or keep from ingesting someone else's.
I saw you sitting there.....looking so obviously miserable.....knowing what a nasty flu virus was going around.....and I felt so terribly for you. I couldn't imagine being so ill that you couldn't walk.....or even raise your head. Right then and there, I started to pray for you. I was, in fact, a bit overwhelmed with compassion as I looked at you, and the only thing I knew to do was.....pray. You didn't know it....in fact, no one did. I did it silently, and earnestly. I almost couldn't help it, I felt compelled.
I saw your mother wheel you over to the sign in desk where the nurse asked you a few questions including your height and weight. I remember you giving your weight, and the nurse asking if that number was accurate because she could see from her records that you weighed quite a bit more the last time you were there.....and then I heard your mother say, "Well, she was pregnant the last time she was here." And in that moment......I felt for you all the more.
I overheard the date of your last hospital visit and realized that your child and mine are not far apart in age. I thought of what an active feat it is to be the mother of a small child......and then I looked at the state you were in. I thought of how I would feel if I were in your position. Had I been that seriously ill, I would worry about so many things.....I would worry about not being able to take care of my child. I would worry about my child catching whatever it was that I was suffering from. I would worry about finding care for my child so that I could go to the ER on short notice, and having to find someone to take me there. I would worry about having to clean and disinfect my home to keep my child from getting sick. I would worry about missing some important milestone, or funny and memorable instance with my child because I was too sick to be with him. I would worry about the fact that this was all happening just 2 days before Christmas and that I might not get to fully enjoy the holiday with my child and the rest of my family...... I thought of all these things as I looked at you.......and I prayed. Even in the days and weeks after that day, I prayed for you by name and petitioned God to heal you, and to bring you comfort and peace.
Chances are I'll never see you again, and even if I did, I wouldn't recognize you because I had never actually seen your face that day. But.....you're a mother....and I'm a mother.....
And in that sacred role.....I know you. You're very much like me.
And that day....seeing you and feeling what I felt reminded me of several things:
1. We are all much more alike than we are different.
2. Everyone has a story. You may never know what it is, but everyone's got one, and though they are unique, they're all equally important, for they are written by the same author of life.
3. We are fragile beings, but in our fragility, we are also extremely resilient. What an amazing creator we have, to have made us in this way!
4. Compassion requires action. It isn't enough to see something and feel bad about it. If we aren't moved to do something about it, then it isn't true compassion - it's pity. Even if the only thing we can do is pray, prayer is no small thing! Imagine if we prayed for others more.....for strangers, even.
5. It's a good practice to be aware of who is around you. I try to think of people as more than just other warm bodies in the room, but as souls.....souls beloved by their creator.....created with a purpose.....and bought with the blood of his son. You view people so differently when you think of them that way. This is an especially good practice in regards to people you don't know or don't particularly like.
Bailey, I'm still praying for you. I sincerely hope you are on the road to being well, but I have to thank you also. Thank you for being the catalyst for my realization of some pretty important things that day. I'm certain that you never even knew I was in the room because you never looked up - not once - but knowing that you were in the room......has had a huge affect on me. It just goes to show......you never know how God will use you.....you may not even know he's doing it sometimes.....and he may do it when you feel you're at your worst, and in the unlikeliest of places......like in the emergency room......on Christmas Eve eve.
Thanks, Bailey.....and God bless you.......