A simple question about one woman's actions
Imagine you are a woman just turned twenty. You are in the emergency room of the regional hospital. You suck in a deep breath as your head snaps back hard against the thin pillow; you can’t stop your reddened, gray-blue cheeks from their climb toward your ears. Nobody sees or cares that your furrowed brows are tugging at the swollen skin and stitches over your left eye. Your back arches several inches off the hospital bed because you can’t pull your knees up. Your seventeen-month-old son is laying across your legs.
You twist to see the clock on the wall, its second-hand sweeping at half the pace it moved before this current contraction started. Slowly like the dripping of honey, you count; fifteen, twenty, thirty until forty-five seconds go by. Your eyes cut to the softly beeping machine next to the bed, Oh Christ, they said that stuff would stop them, but they’re still coming just as regularly. The pain eases and you whisper to the invisible person in the empty room, “Where are you, you said you were coming?”
You are alone, your baby’s daddy is hiding; he knows that if he shows up they will take him to jail. (He is after all the original reason for your being in the emergency room.) You try to adjust your arm in its sling, but must stop, the dagger-like anguish stabbing your shoulder re-starts the tears that you thought were over.
Of course, your woes are yet to finish. A tall skinny nurse, who, all night, has seemed too busy to slow her hectic pace, pops in. She looks at the strip on the beeping monitor, adjusts the sensor on the webbed belt wrapped around your tummy. She punches buttons on the IV machine then after looking you up and down.
She says, “I know it hurts dear. But we can’t give you anything for the pain without an adult to care for your toddler. If you pass out there will be nobody to watch him.”
You tell her, “I can’t call my dad he already has my three-year-old. My mom’s long dead. My one Aunt is supposed to be on the way.”
The busy nurse asks, “You managed to contact her, the DCF messenger got through to her?
“Yes,” you say, “but I don’t know why she is taking so long, or if she is even coming at all."
The pressure in your lower back and across your stomach is building again. Do you scream out for help? Do you plead with God to end your misery, and do you make all manner of promises that you know you will probably not keep?
Do you give in and ask the nurse to call the Department of Children and Families to come get the child that is with you? The one who refuses to sleep or be still. Will calling DCF cause the agency to take away the infant still in your womb as well? How desperate do you get, how lost do you feel? Do you make one last plea to God to provide help or let you die?
No! Because, after the busy emergency-room nurse leaves, the woman who came in earlier to try and help you find your Aunt, stops by to check on you. She is a nurse too, a hospital case manager. And though she has just finished her twelve and a half hour shift and done everything expected of her by her bosses and peers alike. Something nags at her heart.
Her tight lips feign into a slim smile as she enters. How can you know her husband has been waiting in the parking lot for the last thirty minutes? She asks, “Your Aunt has not come yet?” You just shake your head.
You watch her eyes focus on your seventeen-month-old child, he is wide-awake and shows no sign of fatigue; does it register that she is looking around the room for toys or other distractions for the young boy. Do you expect her to do as most of the others have and tell you how sorry she is to hear of your plight? Does she wish you well and take her leave shaking her head wondering how you got yourself into this predicament?
No, she exits the room for a few minutes; she doesn’t tell you that she has called to her husband to tell him to go back home and that she is staying with you. You don’t even think twice about the crib or the food for your toddler that somehow shows up in the small labor-room. When she picks the child up off your legs, you say nothing.
No, your knees raise, and the moan escapes as your one free hand presses on your bulging belly. The woman, this nurse, holding your toddler walks to the IV pole and looks at the amount of liquid left in the bag.
She says, “Deep breath darling, it will pass shortly they should be getting better soon. The Mag-sulfate, the medicine, should stop the contractions.”
How much do you talk with her over the next few hours? Oh, not at all. Do you notice her giving your toddler a cookie and then a sip from the small straw in the milk-carton? Do you recognize or even hear her whispered song sung to him as she holds him? Do you tell her how thankful you are for her help?
No, after tonight is over, you, like so many others before you, will most likely not even think of this woman. This sweet, funny, curvy, case manager who never heard of you before your file crossed her little corner desk just five hours ago. This woman, who receives nothing for staying with you until the wee-hours of the morning, when your Aunt finally makes it to the hospital.
Nothing, meaning nothing, no pay, no bonuses, not even recognition from her bosses or co-workers; you see, hospital staff is not supposed to get involved with a patient’s personal problems.
No, the truth is, you will never even realize that a woman of Grace touched and blessed you this night. You will not wonder why God provided such favor to you, when so many of your woes, pains, and sufferings, are of your own making, perhaps, it is one of those things that are beyond mortal comprehension.
But then, there is the even bigger puzzle? Why God let that woman, that funny, curvy woman, with the sweet ever-so-soft voice, choose me as her husband?
So tell me, people, what you did today. Did you try to make the world a little better place? Did you offer a hand without any expectation of return? Could you even read a heartfelt testimony of a woman's love for her contemporaries? Or did you decide even this task, too daunting, and surmise that instead of Grace, this woman has mush for brains.
I would guess it’s okay, after all; she did marry a man too stupid to know that nobody reads a post over ten words in length. Not on Facebook or anywhere else. But then, the truth is he didn’t write it for or about you, now, did I?