I knew it was a bad idea when I agreed to it. But, I looked into my son's big eyes, and I couldn't resist.
As I pulled my van into the church parking lot, my son asked if he could attend "big church" with me instead of his children's class. He never asks to go with me because big church is too loud and long for him. I paused for a second before saying yes.
My son takes the seat next to me that is normally for my husband. But, today he is home with Jaycee who is recovering from her most recent hospital stay due to a respiratory infection.
The service begins and soon the ministry time is announced.
"Elijah, I am going to get prayer. Stay here with grandma."
I make my way to the front of the church keeping a promise I made myself a year ago. After a hospital stay with my daughter, I need prayer for myself as much as I don't want to admit it.
While Jaycee physically recovers from her twenty-something hospital admission, I mentally and emotionally recover too. The "crisis" is over in real life but not in my mind. There is a familiarity that comes with each hospital admission but there is never calmness.
It's not easy medicating and monitoring your child at home for days wondering if she will get worse. Then it's disturbing to wake up to your child struggling to breathe with blue lips and fingers. It's difficult to drive your child to the emergency room alone stopping occasionally to clean up her vomit. Being in an emergency room and following an ambulance to yet another emergency room is not ideal either especially on a few hours sleep. Watching your child lay in an Intensive Care Unit on a bi-pap continuously for a while because she can't breathe isn't the best feeling in the world as a mother-- even though this isn't the first time this has happened. There's a shock that goes through your system when your child's monitor alarms for a worsening vital sign. There's a relief that comes when your child is getting better and is discharged. It's short lived though because soon I become the nurse for the next 7 days caring my daughter at home.
While I try to believe the lie I tell myself, which is I am fine, my body says differently. My arms are neck are extremely tight and tense. I have my husband massage the knots but I grimace with the slightest touch. I grind my teeth so bad in my sleep that I wake myself up even when I wear a night guard. I don't necessarily have nightmares, but my dreams are stressful (i.e. Jaycee's lost in the hospital and I can't find her). A stupid comment from a doctor a few days after her discharge sends me into a crying fit a day later as I wrestle with unexplained guilt and second guessing myself. Clearly, I am not fine. Hence, the need for prayer.
After a few people pray for me, I take my seat wiping tears from my eyes. I try to hide them from Elijah, but I know he sees them. He climbs up in my lap and asks, "Is everything all right, mom?"
"Yes, buddy. Sometimes, I just get sad when Jaycee is in the hospital. I don't like seeing her sick, and I get worried about her. So, it's important to get prayer when you feel worried. That's where mommy was. How do you feel when Jaycee is in the hospital?"
I already know what he will say, because the fact that he didn't want to separate from me this morning is already a clue.
The truth is Jaycee's illnesses that lead to hospital admissions impact everyone in our home. The worst thing any of us can do is to be dishonest with ourselves or each other. We are in this together. With prayer and time, we will all be all right again soon.
I pray for those today with a chronic condition. May you give them strength for the battles ahead and courage to face each day. I also pray for those caregivers serving in love working out silent fears and exhaustion. I pray they will have renewed energy and hope in you today. Amen!