Saturday, February 25, 2006

Hospital Lessons

Yesterday while the morning was still black and blowing icy winds, Tom and I drove to the Big City for another of his back injections. We had to travel over my least favorite stretch of the thruway (not that I have a favorite stretch, hence my white knuckles), then drive to a section which is always in the news for violent altercations, and arrive at the hospital in deepest, darkest downtown before 6:45 a.m. (I was shocked that there even is a 6:45 a.m. outside of my own house.)

All week I'd been reminding myself of what I've written in this blog--about how dreading things spoils potentially-special times and days. I tried, instead, to anticipate that something wonderful would happen during that too-early-too-awful-thruway-drive Friday hospital visit. It wasn't easy.

But anyway, we got out of the car and were glad to see various workers all around us in the dark--safety in numbers and all that good stuff. And just as the ice in the wind whipped away our bodies' car-warmth, we stepped into the hospital's Main Lobby with it's scattered bistro tables, couches, coffee bar, fish tank and even a grand piano, lid opened high. It was as though we'd entered a 1930's nightclub... bluesy music playing... people sitting drinking coffee beneath the warm lights... and laughter and greetings and kindness all around. Like walking into the Twilight Zone, only sweeter. I knew at once that in a violent part of town, here was not just a huge, antiseptic hospital, but a meeting place for any of the elderly, especially, to meet safely, companionably, with their neighbors. There was no sickness required to hang around within these walls.

One woman at the desk searched and searched for any piece of paper stating that Tom even existed, while the 60-ish woman beside her spoke to someone else about switching the stations back and forth between American Idol and Olympic skaters last night, also pausing to speak joyful greetings to anyone who walked past. Finally, the woman helping Tom, (but not helping), told the smiling woman next to her that she could find no record of Tom's appointment and rather than panic, moan or roll her eyes, Joy Woman simply laughed and said, "Well, let's see what we can do."

And then Joy Woman looked at our last name upon the sheet Tom handed her and remarked what a wonderful name it was. And because there is a certain word within our name, she commented about that word, how good it must be to have such a word in our last name--that it was a special word. By what she said, this woman gave us a hint that she knew God, and had she not been so efficient and able to send us merrily on our way before we even knew what happened, we would have acknowleged that we, too, were Christians.

But as we followed an adorable little elderly gentleman volunteer, we simply voiced our warmest thanks to Joy Woman and we came away feeling as though we'd just spent time with Tess from Touched By An Angel. Remember Della Reese's delightful angel character on that show? And all the rest of the morning we felt the remembered-warmth of that woman--it was something we couldn't shake, something we did not wish to shake.

And later, riding up and down the elevators and sitting in the child-sized chapel to kill time, I thought, "That's how I want to be--just like Joy Woman at the desk. But there's no way that's going to happen unless it comes from God, Himself."

And I was okay with that. I can trust Him enough to eventually get me to that place because He's brought me a thousand miles farther already than where I used to live before... a million miles, actually, away from a land called Pitiful.

And you know? I'm looking forward to the remainder of the trip because with God, you never know what kind of surprises may be waiting.

Especially when you switch from Dread to Anticipate.

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