Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.
~ Naomi Shihab Nye
While this week has been brutal on so many levels, it has also been laced with kindnesses which have been reminders to me of faith, hope, and love.
Love being the greatest.
On Sunday morning, the pain of watching my baby struggle to breathe and the harsh realities that were before us was more than I could bear. Tears came and just wouldn’t stop coming. Marielle, our incredible nurse who has cared for Ryan numerous times over the past weeks, paused from her duties to cry with me. There weren’t words to fix what was wrong, and so she didn’t try. This gift will always remain with me.
The doctors attending to Ryan have been from multiple departments, including hematology, ICU, nephrology, infectious disease, and palliative care. Compassion has been woven into their communication and treatment plans. I have felt their concern for Ryan’s life, not just his medical condition, every step of the way.
Friends, family and strangers have stood with us. Prayers without ceasing. Meals. Care packages. More texts and calls than I could possibly respond to. All loving reminders that we are not alone.
Mel and Mary Herbert. Over the past three months, they have not only opened their home to our family, they have made space within their lives to walk this unpredictable, gut-wrenching journey with us.
Every morning this week, Mel has driven me to the hospital at 6AM and attended daily rounds to listen and help interpret all that is happening within Ryan. He has endured my endless questions, most of which don’t have an answer. After rounds, he drives Titus home to rest during the day and then brings him back in evening for us to switch again.
And Mary has helped to coordinate care, along with my parents and Linda, for our other kids. She has kept a sense of normalcy in a time that is nothing like normal.
I am grateful for the gift of my parents being in town this week; and our dear friend, Mike, “just so happened” to be doing a surgical residency rotation this week at UCLA. He came by multiple times a day to be with Titus and I.
While Ryan’s condition remains extremely critical, over the past two days, there have been some improvements. They may be small, but they are not insignificant. I’ve never needed to be grateful for dropping liver enzymes, more stable platelets or a rising white count. Today, I feel the mercy of all of these. We are attempting to wean Ryan off of dialysis, and there is talk of trying to get him ready in the next few days for extubation to see if he can breathe on his own.
While we wait and pray, I wonder, as Marilyn Gardner writes, “if suffering gives us a taste for kindness?”