Today I went to the doctor for a kidney infection. Needed antibiotics.
The nurse comes into the room, gently, light-footed. Her presence, calm. I pick up on her energy right away; I always do. It’s sweet, kind, willing. There’s an openness about her, a readiness to hear from me. She’s there for Me.
She breathes slowly, setting the tone of our meeting. My breathing follows in rhythm. I love that she knows how to do this…it is, by comparison, so rare.
She asks her questions, stopping to look me in the eye as I answer. Listening, actually listening; presently present and listening.
It makes real conversation happen — back and forth, listening and processing and responding in turn; breathing, relating, giving, taking.
So we talked for a while, small talk about, of course, my kidney infection and the antibiotics. We moved past that and conversation flowed to other things, like driving and the commute we both make, how we like to spend our time. “Audiobooks!” we agree. Make the most of our time. Be efficient, be productive. We laugh at our similarity. How similar that we both love the drive over Blood Mountain. Beautiful, calming, tranquil, time to think and decompress.
“I love to hike Blood Mountain,” she inserts, “but we haven’t been since before my baby was born. We love to hike but we haven’t taken the baby out much. She was a preemie and I still worry about her.”
“How old is she?”
“18 months.” And then she told me everything. Everything. The reasons for the early delivery, the complications. Everything.
“What’s her name?”
“Ohhhh. Kyleeeee. That’s a beautiful name,” I said with a smile. “You are so blessed.” I meant it.
“Do you have children?”
“I do. Emma Rose. She’s going to be 12 this weekend. She’s at a beautiful age.”
“Do you want to see her picture?” She asked, already leading me down the hall to show me! I said, “Of course I do!” She walked me to the next exam room, turned on the light, and there on the wall of this doctor’s office was a large, framed black and white photograph of this chubby baby girl with a daisy flower bow snugly wrapped around her fat little adorable head. And inside this frame, there was also a second smaller photo, and the smaller photo was of this same little baby, at birth, all two pounds of her with tubes all around her little face, eyes shut. She had on the blue and pink bonnets they give to babies in the NICU. I know. I’ve seen them before.
I was happy for this young mother. Hers was a good story of survival and growth and joy.
We stood talking about the wonders of medicine, how far we’ve come, how advanced we are compared to 40 years ago when doctors couldn’t save the two pound babies. Or if they did, there were many problems, so most doctors didn’t try (she said that’s what her doctor told her). “So wonderful. It’s amazing. It’s beautiful. You are fortunate. I am happy for you.” These were my words. I meant them all.
She said she knew she was blessed, that not all mothers were as lucky.
“It was prayer, you know. I owe it all to prayer. We had so many people praying for her.”
I said, “I know not all mothers are as lucky, not all babies are as fortunate. I had twins. They didn’t make it. Jordyn Alexandria and Ana Kylee. Kyleeee. See, I told you I loved the name Kylee.” I said, smiling and reassuring her. “I don’t hear her name very often.” Her posture changed.
I didn’t have to say the next part. This young nurse and I were alike in many ways…we knew we were…we mirrored one another’s likes and dislikes. But the next part, it was better left unsaid. The reality was there: I’d prayed for my children, too. We had so many people praying for them.
Time passed. She tried to comfort me, in the way that she thought I needed comforting. But I don’t. I think the words she spoke were comforting to her. I have dealt with this long ago.
She said they celebrated each milestone, each rolling over, each new step of her baby’s growth. She said it’s because the doctors told her these things would never happen.
I gently corrected her. Gently. Kindly. Maternally. She was a sweet young nurse, so open and willing and … young. I told her that each day, all our lives should be celebrated as a miracle. It’s a miracle that so many things go just exactly right for there to be life, and then continued life, and then laughter and love and joy. Let us not take it for granted. It could be gone in a moment. We are all as fortunate as that little cherub Kylee. We are all a miracle.
I hope she understood. I think she did. I believe she has a new thought forming in her mind, a new way of looking at God (not as the eternal wish-granter).
God was present with the nurse and I that day. He was the peace, the connection, the energy, the compassion, the life.
But did God cure my kidney infection? No, that was the antibiotics.
Angela Matthews 2014