It's been a week worth writing about.
A while ago, I made friends with a leukemia patient who used to be in the Marines. We talked about God, and he said he didn't want to turn God away, that it was better to be nice to God instead of bashing Him. That night, I thought about asking him, "What if God wants you to run to Him instead of just not running from Him?" I asked God for the strength to ask him, but he was gone the next day. Then I asked God to tell him Himself or make him come back.
That was a long time ago. On Saturday, I walked into a room to fix the beeping pump, and there he was! I had time that day to hang out with him and his wife a little bit. I told him I pray for him, and that opened up a whole can of worms. I told him I had been thinking about him since the last visit - wanting to get him thinking, somehow, about being active about knowing God. Then he sure told me. He told me that God had given him two visions since our last meeting. Once, he saw great hands come down around him and cradle him. They picked him up gently off the bed and then floated him back down again. Then a voice said, "I am taking care of you." He said, "Okay. Thank You." Later, he heard God tell him, "I am going to give you a miracle." He said, "Okay, thank You." Two days later, his doctor told him that his bone marrow biopsy showed no cancer: "It's a miracle!" He said, "I know. God told me I would get one." And we were happy together.
That was Saturday. On Sunday, the nice man from church who says I am a mystic told me to write a love letter to God. He wanted to read it. He wants to love God more, and he thought maybe reading something I wrote to Him would help. On Monday, I wrote.
I'll tell you the truth: spending time facing God with everything you are is a hard thing. It's pure honesty and nakedness. There is pain in loving God sometimes. To know Him is to love Him. To love Him is to miss Him terribly. There is a way to see life through this dark glass, and it's a sad way to live. I lived life that way for a while, and then I asked God for help - that He would send me a friend to be consolation for not being able to be with Him, to help me wait for Him. I married that friend. I told God all about that in my letter. I told Him other things, too. Mostly I'm sorry. and thank you. and I love you.
It took me a couple of days to recover, actually. Life has been deeper this week. Time doesn't mean so much and it means more all at the same time.
That was Monday. On Tuesday and Wednesday, I cared for particularly special patients, very very sick patients, patients near death. Ms T has been a favorite of mine all through her journey. Mr H was new to me. He was very sick, and his family had to make a lot of decisions yesterday about how he will die. Mr H's wife prayed all day on Wednesday. She and her family have loved God for a very long time. Another patient went from us to the ICU and was reportedly doing poorly. She is young with a horrible blood disease. She has spent a lot of time on our floor. I was told weeks ago that she would live a painful, short life and die a painful death.
That was Tuesday and Wednesday. On Thursday, I went to visit them. I have never done that before - visiting patients on my day off, but these ones were special, and I couldn't stay away. I wanted to help Mrs H, somehow, to get to the point where she could let him go - to recognize what a blessing she would be giving him to let him go see God. After visiting her, I found out that she had gotten to that place overnight. She walks closely with Jesus.
A long time ago, Ms T came to have plastic ureters placed into her kidneys in place of her real ones - nephrostomies, they are called. Cancer and treatment made her ureters dysfunctional. She was quite well then, comparatively. Since then, she has had multiple admissions for chemotherapy, pancytopenia, neutropenic fever, confusion. Ms T's family calls me "The A Team" and say I tell it like it is. They like that, so I am one of their favorites. She and her family are special to me. I just couldn't really stay away after hearing she had a trip to the ICU and now was back on our floor to die.
When I saw her, I would never have known that she was any sicker. She was chipper and lucid and talkative. I asked her if she was ready. She said she wasn't, because she wanted to do so much more for other people. She talked about helping her nieces and nephews find the right paths for their lives, things they could pour themselves into and have purpose for life. She wanted to be around to help them with her resources, with her time, with her life. It is a beautiful thing when your last wish is not for you, but for those you love. We talked about thanking God for each day as a gift, doing today, the things you want to do before you die. You may not have tomorrow. I encouraged her to write letters to her nieces and nephews expressing her love and hopes while there is a today.
That was Thursday. Today is Friday. I got a message that Ms T died this morning. There isn't today for her. Not like us, anyway. I can't wait to go to heaven. It's going to be so nice to see Jesus' face and to understand. I get heartbroken that I'm not there yet. But each day here is a gift, and He tells us that our life is short. Sometimes we hang onto that like our life-breath. Other times, it makes us sad, like right now, because Ms T and her family won't be coming to see us anymore.
It all reminds me about this friend I have. She had cancer when she was a kid. She got a lot of chemo/radiation to her torso, so her heart and lungs are weak and show signs of being old with heart disease, lung problems, etc. even though she is in her twenties. When patients tell her, "Don't get old." She tells them, "Actually, that's my one goal in life." I admire her, because she lives her life like everyday is a gift. I went hang gliding with her. She's been all over the world. She's gone skydiving (and likes hang gliding better). She lives her life connected to God, because there's a fact of life that's more real to her than it is to some of us. At any given moment, we could be a few more moments away from meeting our Maker.
I just wanted to share these things with you to help you with perspective. I have a gift because of the things I see at my job to see life a little bit differently. I see life as something very close to death, not far removed from it. I see today as something transient, and I hope you can go there with me a little bit. I hope you can think: "Thank You God, for Your gift." I hope you can do and say the things you need to while there is a today.