I don’t like to talk about it.
When I do, the words get all bunched up like a walnut stuck in my throat. My eyes sting with tears.
A few weeks ago, in the wee hours of the morning, I was roused from a deep sleep by the sound of my husband Tim’s voice calling for help. I stumbled down the hall where I found him—the tall, strong love of my life—collapsed in the bathtub, violently ill, throwing up blood.
The next moments are a blur. Still conscious and somewhat communicative, Tim insisted he didn’t need an ambulance and just wanted to lie down. I cleaned him off as best I could and helped him as he staggered back to bed.
Placing a call to the hospital’s emergency room, he described what happened and his current symptoms. The ER doctor’s soothing voice and reassuring words were like a healing salve on my burning emotions. “No need for panic, but do bring your husband in immediately. We’ll be waiting for him and will take good care of him.”
We pulled up at the ER entrance. An attendant quickly arrived with a wheelchair. He and the nurse who accompanied him had kind eyes. I could tell they were smiling from behind their protective face masks. Because the novel coronavirus protocol prohibits patient visitors, they waited respectfully, allowing a few moments for Tim and me to exchange a mask-to-mask kiss before whisking him away.
Back in the driver’s seat of my car, I paused for a moment. There, in the middle of a sunny morning, I faced one of my darkest hours. Where do I go? With our churches closed and social distance mandates in place, I felt isolated in my suffering.
Ordinarily I would seek comfort at the nearest Catholic church, sit in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, and gaze at the familiar sacramentals: the crucifix of Jesus, statues of our Blessed Mother and Saint Joseph, and images of Saint Damien and Saint Marianne. I would relate my experience to the Stations of the Cross. I’d call upon a family member or friend who would hold my hand and cry along with me.
But where could I go given our new social restrictions?
In the depths of my soul I heard Jesus say, “Come to me, all who are weary. I am wherever you are.”
So I drove home. There, I cut fresh flowers for the sacred space where I enthrone a Bible, crucifix, rosary, and a statue of Mother Mary. I turned to Jesus in sacred Scripture, feasting upon the daily Mass readings. I prayed the Spiritual Communion prayer, assured of Jesus’ presence. I prayed for strength, healing, and for God’s guiding hand upon Tim’s health care team.
Later, I texted my family members and a couple of close friends who bombarded me with prayers, kind words, and a few silly photos that they knew would bring me cheer. My neighbor across the street, without even knowing what had happened, called to say he was leaving two boxes of cookies on my front steps.
In my darkest hour, the light of Jesus shone brightly. Saint Padre Pio wrote, “Our Lord sometimes makes you feel the weight of the cross. This weight seems unbearable but you carry it because in His love and mercy, the Lord helps you and gives you strength.” Assured of the Lord’s merciful presence, my weariness melted away. Peace tempered any worrisome thought.
That same evening, Tim was stable and able to walk the halls of the hospital. The next afternoon, I received a call from his attending physician with a sweet message: “Your husband is doing great. We’re releasing him tomorrow.” Several weeks after his collapse, he’s now fully recovered; thank God!
I still don’t like talking about it. But I suppose sometimes these sacred stories are meant to be shared.
What sacred story (yours or that of another) has recently inspired you?
How has Christ led you to an encounter with him in a new and unexpected way?
How has your prayer life deepened over the past few months?