Weekly Anamnesis #5
(This one was harder, I hope I am not overusing this topic it is what holds the most poignant and recent memories for me . . .)
Dance, Birthday, Open House, Party, Wedding Shower, Wedding, Baby Shower Invitations, Reunion: I have received them all; I have even sent many of them. Sometimes spoken, most often written, each comes in a different style, often reflecting the personality of the hostess and presenting the event with its own special flair. Each is received in a different style as well, excitement, dread, wonder, curiosity, and sometimes (I think this one is a bit more rare) overwhelming gratitude.
Out of the countless invitations to various events that have slipped through my fingers there is one (other than my wedding invitations) that stands out in my mind. Perhaps it is because it’s one of the most recent, but more likely it is because of the impact it had.
I don’t remember when I first saw it; the Invitation. At some point shortly after we arrived at the ICU with Jacob they appeared on the walls. It didn’t catch my attention at first. Simply a piece of paper, blue, yellow, hung on a wall. My brain was numb, my body tired, my heart aching. It must have been during a moment when he was doing rather well that I was alive enough to read it, “You are invited to a home cooked Easter Dinner! Who: Pediatric floor, PICU, and NICU patients, families, and staff. When: Easter Sunday 12:00-2:30” I didn’t notice who was hosting the dinner, but I did think it was a very nice thought and tucked it away in my brain to talk over with my hubby.
Paul was the first one who brought it up. “Did you see the flyers?” I answered in the affirmative. “Did you notice who is providing the dinner?” I shook my head no and he handed me an invitation. And read “Dinner hosted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.” I smiled, an act rare at the time. I found it rather providential that it just happened to be hosted by members of our faith. A different congregation of course and none of them knew us, but providential just the same. Of course it would have meant just as much being a different faith but it created that small seed of warmth of something familiar.
Originally we planned to bring the children to the hospital with Paul’s parents and enjoy the dinner all together. Jacob wasn’t to have heart surgery until the following Tuesday. Plans are never meant to be set in stone. Saturday Jacob’s oxygen levels started to drop dangerously low, even though they had him stabilized as best they could, and there was no other option: They had to the surgery the next day. Easter Sunday. We decided not to bring the kids up to the hospital of course, but Paul’s parents came. How does one describe the feelings one has while they wait for their infant to emerge for surgery. Anxious for a good report, terrified of a bad one.
We accepted that invitation, the one hanging on the wall, hoping it might help the time pass better. What a strength talking with people of our faith and other patients of all faiths, words of encouragement received as they found out our son was in surgery at that very moment. I don’t ever recall being filled with overwhelming gratitude at such a simple invitation before, but it is truly one that changed our lives. People who didn’t know us or anyone at the hospital, willing to give up their precious holiday to serve us and others. Now I hope to carry on that legacy and issue my own invitation.