29.5.10

COTW: Retrospection and Introspection

I was on call overnight, but now it's a cool morning, with an almost autumn breeze, and I'm reminded of resurrection.

Mercy died yesterday morning, and that one was particularly hard. Because she was young. Because she has orphaned at least two little children. Because she spoke English and had been in the hospital for three weeks, so I kind of feel like she was a friend, after a manner. Because, in retrospect, I think I might have figured her out sooner if I had asked the right questions, and then maybe she'd still be here.

Now that it's done, I think that her heart failure had been distracting us. It was definitely present, but unusually hard to treat, and the overall picture just didn't quite fit right. Then, three days ago, she develops swelling in her thigh, we confirm that she has a clot in there, and all of a sudden I'm thinking that maybe that's been the problem all along. Pieces of clot from her leg veins breaking off and lodging in her lungs. We started her on treatment, but I guess we were too late. Or maybe it didn't matter. In any case, yesterday morning, walking back from the bathroom, she suddenly collapsed, and nothing we could do could bring her back.

It wasn't until the day before she died that she told us that she'd had this kind of leg problem before. She never thought it was relevant, and I never made a point of asking.

Her intern and I gathered with her very large family in the hospital hallway in the afternoon. We explained what we believe happened, and expressed our grief at not having been able to save her. We prayed together. Their gratitude in the face of this tragedy is overwhelming, and it is near to shaming me, as the back of my mind wonders if a better doctor, even here in this limited setting, would have sent Mercy home to mother her children.

And yet it wasn't until this morning that I was reminded of resurrection. Something about the cool morning hours, and I opened the bible to the end of Luke. The family and friends had lost. Their expectations for the future were crushed, as they suddenly lost a young life. Chapter 24 starts “But...” But it didn't end there. This death was different. It was reversed. Transformed. This death was different than all that had come before. And none since has ever been the same.

Resurrection for Mercy. Resurrection for me at the end of my days, whenever it will come. Resurrection from the smaller, everyday deaths that our lives bring to the lives around us. Resurrection of all our mornings and evenings.

“Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.” 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14

“We belong to the day.” 1 Thessalonians 5:8

4 comments:

Jonathan said...

You're right, Eric. Thanks for sharing that. I'm sorry. And until that day you probably won't know how many lives you've touched either.
Love, Sami

Christina said...

Eric - thank you for being so honest and transparent. I identified so much with the things you said. We so often feel inadequate and at a loss, and it's amplified here. Thank goodness we serve a good God who can work through broken vessels like us. Thank you for your encouraging words!

Anonymous said...

Oh Son, My heart aches for you. Continue to stay close to Jesus as you process all of your work and experiences. Love you tons, Mom

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing unabridged. That is part of your ministry, not for people there, but for people here, and it is important.
j