A Humane Moment at the Hospital

I spent most of yesterday at the hospital; my Mother was having a simple surgery in the late morning.  After praying with her and saying “See you later”, I went out to the waiting area, which was actually very comfortable and has pretty decent coffee.

I had been doing some reading for about an hour when an older woman sat down a few steps away from me.  I hadn’t noticed until a middle-aged man came over seconds later and said “Hi, I’m (somebody); I’m going to sit with you here until your friend arrives.”

At first she politely resisted—“Oh, that’s okay, you don’t have to”—but he stayed.  He whispered something and she immediately started talking to him about everything.

Apparently her husband had gotten home from work that morning and, while she was still there, he suffered a stroke, unable to talk or move.  While she was speaking, two nurses came out and calmly but urgently gave her a form and said they needed her consent for immediate surgery, to remove the blood clot in his brain.  After she signed, they returned to the surgical area, and she continued talking to the man.

I had finally looked over my shoulder to see the woman: she appeared in her sixties; she was kind of heavy, with black and salty hair, glasses, wrinkled hanging skin, but she had the sweetest voice.  And in that hurting moment, it was a shaking voice, as she tried holding it together.

The man sitting with her was so patient, calmly asking her a question here and there, but letting her do the talking.  She told him how she wasn’t supposed to be at home at that moment, but was glad she was, commenting how “someone was looking out for him”.

Sitting a few steps away, I wanted to go over to her, hug her, hold her; but it was enough for this man to just sit there, kindly, calmly, and be there.

Eventually the woman’s friend arrived, the man wished her the best and left, and I went to the restroom and cried.  It was a humane moment—humanity’s resilient beauty present in hurting chaos.

I couldn’t stop my tears again when I related the story to my Dad later; I don’t know if that man was a hospital volunteer or a chaplain, but how he functioned and interacted with this woman touched me deeply.  There is a level of love I believe we were all created to live out.  It’s lived out patiently, calmly, kindly.  It’s lived out in unimpressive settings toward very average humans in what are often unsung moments and are content to be so.

I don’t know how that woman’s story or her husband’s played out, but similar stories with similar themes play out around us every day in homes and apartments, tables and cubicles nearby; you are more than capable of being the one who can be there if you let yourself dive to a deeper level of love.  This is how we make moments humane.

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