This Life.

We’d planned to have dinner together, Chelsea May and I, but because I was on-call at the hospital, she was to meet me there and we would get something from the cafeteria (classy, I know).  The moment she messaged me that she was leaving her apartment and heading over, I received a page to call the hospital operator.  I returned the page and they patched me through to a frantic sounding NICU nurse: “Um, hi.  Can you come to the NICU right now?  Like, NOW, right now?”  She hung up the phone.  I called and told Chelsea May that I was going to run upstairs, see what was going on, and I’d let her know what the plans were going to be.

The NICU in this moment was different than I had experienced before.  Now, the medical team was trying to maintain calm and peace as they diligently and methodically worked on a 22-week-old body that rested on his mother’s chest.  She sat, her shirt stained with his blood and her pants stained with her own; her husband stood behind them, arms wrapped around her.  Doctors, nurses, translators, and me – we all danced around this family, our collective voices a hushed drone comprised of calls for medication and instruments, chart updates, medical jargon, Spanish and English prayers, questions and answers.

As I approached, the translator leaned over and told me the family’s names, then translated the words of the woman’s prayers: Thank you, God, for this life.  She repeated it over and over, a chant raised to the heavens.  In the minutes that followed, as the medical team took the body to the table to administer one last attempt, her prayers continued, and I somehow fell into the rhythm with her: Thank you, God, for this life.  Thank you, God, for this life.  Thank you, God…

 

This life could not take any more.

 

 

The medical staff apologized through tears
(though there was nothing to apologize for – they did their jobs and they did them well)…
they wept with one another, with the family, with themselves…
they wept as they removed tubes and lines from the body…
they wept as they returned the small body to the family. 

And she carried on: Thank you, God, for this life.  Thank you, God, for this life.  Thank you, God…

 

It’s been a little over two months since I was in that space, praying those words with that family, and it’s a prayer that I continue to this day.  I give thanks for this life which brought me to that space where I could pray with others.  I give thanks for this life which helped me understand myself and my vulnerabilities a little more.  I give thanks for this life which allowed me to be present with others.  I give thanks for this life which will be with me all of my days. 

Thank you, God, for this life.

much love. sheth.

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