I visit a lot of folks in the hospital as part of my job. I know how to find clergy parking. I know how to hunt folks down when the hospital staff isn’t as helpful to tell you where a patient is. I know how to sit with a family as they wait for the results of a major test. I know how important it is to pray with a patient when the outcome is uncertain.
But, what I didn’t know about until this week was what it was like to be on the other side of the hospital. I didn’t know what it was like to watch someone who means the world to you go through a hospital stay. It is a new emotional experience. It is a place of being where you appreciate things that you’d never had reason to think about before.
Now that we are out of the hospital bubble we were in for a couple of days, this is what I have to offer:
I didn’t know how important it was for someone to be with me after I told Kevin goodbye for the operating room. (It is just not a time to be alone).
I didn’t know how much it would mean to be prayed for in acutal words relayed by those dearest to us.
I didn’t know how much gifts of “Could I bring you something for dinner?” Or, “Could I take you to lunch?” meant. (I guess worry makes you forget to eat).
I didn’t know how much I would give up sleep (my favorite thing) to be in the hospital beside Kevin. There are just times when you don’t want to be a part, especially when you know you are the only family the patient has around (you want to live up the the responsibility bestowed to you).
I didn’t know how the quality of bedside manner for a nurse makes or breaks your outlook. (If you have a caring nurse, it means the world!)
I didn’t know what a great gift texting is in a hospital environment (thank God for technology). There are just sometimes when you want folks to know how things are going, but you don’t have the energy to talk.
I didn’t know that there would be no way that I would have mental energy to think about work or my sermon this week or any of these sorts of things until we got home. (While keeping around my laptop around, it was never opened!)
I didn’t know how appreciative I could be of every little bit of concern: kind thoughts sent our way through emails, visits, flowers, and all other well wishes. Nothing was underappreciated in our book!
My pastoral presence for the loved ones of those receiving hospital care will be different now. I know how important it is on a personal level.
And, I wonder how family go through times of illness and crisis without the support of loving communities? We have certainly been encouraged from the quality of folks around us this week! We are all the better for it even as Kevin continues to recover at home.