I sat in the hospital room holding her hand.
The sound of the machines humming around us.
Telling her how much I loved her
Unaware if she could hear me
But still promising not to lose hope.
In the Spring of 2001, my senior year of college, my mom’s lithium (a drug she takes for her bipolar disorder) level got too high which caused her kidney’s to shut down. One night, as I was getting ready for bed, the phone in my dorm room began to ring shortly after 10 pm. As I went to pick up the phone, a feeling of helplessness overcame me. Before the words were even out of the nurses mouth, I knew something wasn’t right. She proceeded to tell me that mom was in the intensive care unit at the local hospital.
I immediately sent out a quick email to all of my camp friends asking them to pray. Within moments, my friend BD (or as I like to affectionately call him “the little brother I always wanted”) called me. During the conversation, BD consoled me, took my mind briefly off of the situation by getting me to laugh but most importantly, BD prayed with and for me and my mom.
The next morning, I found myself in that hospital room, holding mom’s hand, talking to her and listening to the sounds of the machines all around us. Minutes turned into hours turned into days turned into weeks. We were not sure if Mom would ever make it back out of the hospital alive. But by the miracle and grace of God, she finally woke up from her long slumber.
During this instance and throughout our journey of mental illness, I cannot even begin to count the numerous times family and friends have showed up, walked with us, wiped our tears, and simply sat with us. But there is so much beauty in knowing that one is not alone.
In the story of Job, Job’s friends show up too. Job’s friends see his despair, tear their clothes, spread ash over their heads and bodies and simply sit with him. For seven days, Job’s friends never say a word. They simply sit with him. In fact, if they open their mouths, they get in trouble. This story reminds me of what it looks like for the Word to be made flesh during a time of loss.
During a time of loss, the Word becomes flesh through the people who are present with the grieving. I think of my friends who have lost babies and how they have been thankful for those who have simply been there with them during this huge loss. Think of all the times someone has sat with you during a time of loss. Have they not been the Word made flesh by simply being present with you?
So the next time, someone in your life is grieving, perhaps all you need to do is simply “shut up” and listen to the cries and needs of their heart. Wrap them in your loving arms and embody the Word made flesh by simply being present with them.