Friday, August 21, 2009
Mine Arm is Lengthened Out All the Day Long
An odd title, but it pretty much describes an idea that I really like.
It's been a week of bad health news. My dear grandmother's doctor discovered gout in her thumb and after an emergency surgery, she's still waiting to know how much of her thumb was removed and if the infection has spread anywhere else. A friend--my age--just found out she has MS. I attended a funeral on Monday for a woman from church who died of surgery complications. And I rolled my measly ankle a couple of weeks ago smack dab in the middle of marathon training. I feel like a total whiner.
There's so much I wish I could do. But with GranNomi in Missouri and my friend in Utah, and my ankle wrapped and iced and elevated, there's not much I can do. Besides pray.
Except, you see, there is a woman from church here who is dying of cancer. She has no family. She is in her last weeks. And she needs people to stop by. Yesterday Julie and I dropped off her kids at a friend's and headed to McDonalds for some milkshakes. After all, they are the medicine my Grandad always brought me. I also towed along a bag full of tricks--dominoes, crossword & sudoku, some random DVDs, and my new Eliza R. Snow book. Just in case.
Holly didn't answer the door. Julie and I freaked out--we could just imagine her, unconscious, on the floor, unable to answer the phone. We knocked and tried talking to her through the door with no answer. We tried to look into the windows, but they were like seven feet above the ground. We chatted it up with her Latin neighbors, who didn't even know she lived there. We called everyone we could think of--friends in Utah, a co-worker at the Smithsonian who was out in the field that day, people from Church. Finally, after hearing baby Bronco crying on the phone, we took our dripping milkshakes and left.
Of course we got a text that Holly was out on some errands with a kind friend. When we returned, she was just getting out of the car and needed help unlocking the door. Confused and hot, sweaty, tired, she was grateful for the melting strawberry milkshake-turned-milk. I gave her a hug and we left.
There was so much I wish I could have done. I wish I could have comforted her and taken away her pain and frustration. I wish I could have given her a foot rub or helped clean up or made her laugh. I wish I could have heard stories about her childhood or about her career or her conversion. Instead I felt her sharp shoulder bones in her grateful hug and left her sugar. I wish I could visit with my grandmother and tell her stories about Eliza R. Snow and play dominoes (she seems to always win).
Holly is now in the hospital, unconscious, her body fighting infection and pnemonia. At least she has no pain.
And at least I know that I do the best I can to help my family by helping the people around me. And I see in the process that in a strange way, there is an arm lengthened out all the day. And beyond.