This morning Grandpa wasn’t feeling well, and in the snowball sort of way elderly people get sick, this evening he’s in the hospital ICU. He’s stabilized, and they think he will be ok, but at one point today I stood at the foot of his bed, looking over his shoulder at a monitor that displayed his blood pressure and pulse.
42 beats per minute.
He was talking, slowly but coherently, and I looked at his tiny form in that hospital bed and wondered at the force of his will.
I couldn’t stay at the hospital. Mom needed to be there, to help Grandma and Grandpa understand the events around them and make their decisions. Dad needed to be there to rest his hand on Mom’s back and to “do” things. Bring lunch, get some water, fetch a pillow – whatever he could do to offer support.
The truth is, no one could actually do anything. It was a time to wait, to see if the processes in his body would overwhelm the medicine, or if the medicine would drown the chain of reactions that was slowing Grandpa’s heart.
I had to be home with my boys (who, dear as they are, would have been NO HELP AT ALL in the emergency room), so I kissed everyone goodbye and went home.
When I arrived there, three frantic little boys reminded me that I had promised – PROMISED – to take them to the new rec center. It just opened up this weekend, and has an indoor pool that is a wonder to behold.
I didn’t want to go swimming, particularly not alone with all three boys. I wanted to stay home by the phone. But whenever you can keep a promise you should, and I could keep this one. So I dug out the swimming bag and stuffed it full of towels, and we were off.
The swim area at the new rec center is truly amazing. There is a lap pool, but the kid’s play area is separate and wonderful. Two slides, a shallow area with sculptures that splash water down on the kids below, and a channel that runs in a circle, with a current that sweeps swimmers through it.
The din in there was a bit overwhelming, and at first I was tense at all the noise and water and children splashing everywhere. I don’t actually like chaos all that much, and I wasn’t really in the mood to deal with it. But Tre took off, to ride the slides incessantly. Max splashed into the play area. Raphael is a bit like me about noise, and stood right by my side, his fingers in his ears and a scowl on his face. I coaxed him into some shallow water, and eventually got him all the way in the pool. Before long he relaxed into it, and let me swing him through the water while he kick, kick, kicked. After a while I took him on a ride through the current in the channel. On our second trip through Max joined us, and we bobbed along, my arms aching as I held two slick brown heads carefully above the water’s surface.
For the first time since arriving, I started to relax. I remembered something I’d heard once, that worship is doing whatever you think God would want you to do at the moment. I may have been wishing to be elsewhere, but this was where I was meant to be. I let the water carry us and thought about how life just happens. People leave, people die. All you can do is ride the current you’re on, and do what you think God wants you to do.
This morning I sat with my friend in church. He held my hand. At one point Raphael was sitting on my lap and looked down at our clasped hands next to him. For just a moment he slipped his small hand between ours, I suppose to see what it would feel like. This also is an unexpected turn in my life. I rested my chin on Raphael’s warm head and that moment too was worship.
Joy and pain, gain and loss. It washes over all of us endlessly.