in small packages – Haiku – A Reflection on Hospitals and a Thank You to Nurses and Doctors

in small packages,
big things-hopes, fears, suffering.
children’s hospital

I have spent part of the last two evenings visiting in the hospital as my nephew was treated for a broken arm which required surgery. Thankfully, he is doing very well, despite a fair amount of suffering over the last 24 hours. He should be going home tomorrow.

I must confess, though, that entering hospitals is always a bit of a difficult thing. These visits reminded me most acutely of visits to hospitals over the past few years as my father had heart and other ailments and finally passed away inside of one last year. It also reminded me of times farther removed when I went with my father to this very same hospital 10 years ago when a daughter of my other brother spent the first several months of her life in the NICU there.

Yesterday I caught in my worry and tenseness and even my mannerisms glimpses of his deep concern and worry and intense desire to be of help so many years ago. Sometimes the intensity of his desire to help and an inability to fully grasp or accept what was required from him got in the way, but I have never forgotten his heart or how he engaged relatives of other patients in the hospital, in the lobby or elevator (he did not just look down at his feet), encouraging them simply by his engagement, his warm smile, his words and prayers.

Relatives in all hospitals are a harried bunch, sleeping in uncomfortable chairs with unbrushed teeth and still wearing yesterday’s clothes, worriedly anticipating the next bit of news while having to negotiate visitors and life outside of the hospital which still marches on. But parents at a children’s hospital seem especially ragged. Watching my nephew was hard enough, but walking by rooms one sees others who are more helpless, often in more difficult straights–little babies hooked up to monitors, children sitting in their beds in small gowns with both legs in casts–and their parents and relatives suffer along with them. It can all be a bit difficult at times, though, conversely, sometimes it makes me want to run and become a chaplain.

And, so, I end by thanking those who enter the caring professions, who are professional care-givers, yes, but who also must at some level bear emotional costs as they witness and care for and sometimes say goodbye to those who are weak and helpless. God’s blessings upon you.