The Power of Presence

There can’t be many feelings worse than going across country to help someone and becoming the one needing help! Especially when you are the mother. But that is exactly what happened two weeks ago.

My daughter was suffering from diverticulitis and post partum both aggravated by her 7 month old adjusting to a new bed  and waking up every hour all night. So I went to help. I didn’t do much but laundry and make breakfast one morning, gaining her an hour of sleep. Oh and maybe helped her pain with a few essential oils I brought.

But as Providence would have it she had started antibiotics that day and another product designed to promote gut health, and when I fell apart she was feeling better. I arrived on Tuesday evening and by Thursday evening had some swelling in my mouth and the beginning of a “soft lock” on my jaw. By Saturday it seemed to be improving and then bam! Sunday morning the left side of my face was really swollen. By Monday I could hardly talk and canceled my  flight for the next day.

Tuesday my daughter took me, with her two toddlers, to a dentist who after an hour referred me to an oral surgeon. So my daughter took me there; and after another hour, he said I needed to be hospitalized and should go only to Chapel Hill ER because they were the only ER with an oral surgeon on call. My son-in-law met us and took me the additional 30 minutes, so she could take the little ones home.

I was so grateful, yet feeling like such a bother and so disappointed in having to go to an ER. I could see hours of waiting ahead, and I had already filled out an hour’s worth of paperwork at the first two places. And the pain in my ear and throat were growing. An abscess from a cavity hidden under a filling, caused by the plane ride?

Was I surprised! From the time we arrived at the ER in Chapel Hill to the time they had me triaged and out of pain was 15 minutes tops! It was amazing to me–especially as busy as they were! They even had my son-in-law fill out the paperwork while they were tending to me. He stayed there until they admitted me which was five hours later! They did a CT scan to see if I needed surgery. The halls were lined with people on gurneys because there were no beds.

My son-in-law called my husband on his way home and told him he needed to come–I was having emergency surgery the next day.

And he came! It was a huge inconvenience to come, but to do it making all the arrangements in a few hours was truly taxing on him. He got very little sleep that night. But he came. And Jeremy (son-in-law) picked him up at the airport and brought him to the hospital (another couple hours investment), where he slept on a hard couch and stayed with me two nights till I was released.

That was very cool. And I learned about the Advantage of Weakness. I brought that book along to edit so I was looking at those words all the time and being reminded that there was an advantage here. It was helpful to rest in weakness and allow them to take care of me. The staff was amazing. They made me feel like I was their only patient, and it brought up so much gratitude in me. Other than side-effects of medication, it was a really great experience. I have never felt so special. They didn’t feel like they were doing a job.

But the thing that has really impressed me is how powerful presence is. Yes, all of my loved ones were really inconvenienced by me, and  guilt slightly taints the “cared for” feeling. But they were all kind about it. And having my daughter do the helping because I needed it was humbling. Having someone drop work and just stay was amazing. (They even made the trip again so I would have visitors! How sweet!)

The knowledge that someone has traveled across country just so you won’t be alone was almost overwhelming. All I keep saying is “My husband came. He came!”

That was also amazing because my grandsons had been praying he would come… and God got him there. I teased them saying God knew I would be willing to suffer to get him there. And I was. But I gained so much in the “suffering.” So much recognition of value, love, and care. And also education about the important things in life. I could have easily lost mine last week–that’s what many people have told me. I never had any fear, though. Once we got to the ER, it was so obvious to me that God was in control of every detail. Peace is feeling His presence. He stayed too.


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