The sounds of crutches smacking the kitchen floor are drifting down the hallway, and I can hear the sharp intakes of breath that mark the half hour before Dan takes his next Vicodin. Foot surgery on Tuesday went well. Recovery is moving along more slowly than the reality my husband had envisioned.
Because of his peripheral neuropathy, Dan’s balance precarious at best. Throw in a pair of crutches and a walking cast, and you can be sure even Lloyd’s of London wouldn’t insure anything in our house right now. Today’s challenge: to try to locate something more respectable than pajama pants that will clear the cast and that can be worn in public.
Dan hoped to get out of the house and take me (er . . technically, it would be me taking him) to River City Improv tomorrow night for an evening of raucous hilarity. But unless Rick, Russ, Mike, Marty, Mel, Wendy and the gang allow Dan to prop his foot on the stage from our usual front-row seats, I doubt we’ll be there. We will probably sit home enjoying even more episodes of NCIS and The History Channel.
But then, looking back on last week, Dan and I faced a different medical reality. We spent several days hanging out at Meijer Heart Center with our dear friends Steve and Amy. Steve’s spent more days than we can count in various hospitals and cancer centers this past year. All he wanted to do last weekend was lie in his own bed and soak up the feeling of home, surrounded by his wife and four boys. Knowing Steve and Amy were far from their Carson City home, Dan and I visited. We brought magazines and Amy’s favorite double-crust, double-cheeze pizza from the alumni party she’d organized but had been unable to attend. We even brought love. But we couldn’t bring a sense of home to the sixth floor of the Meijer Heart Center. Home was back in Carson City, where Steve and Amy knew their boys anxiously waited for their father to come home. A few days later he went home, and last night Amy told me the chemo drugs are doing their work.
Our hope for “recovery” from the pain of life often doesn’t meet the reality of our expectations. We live in a world of suffering, and one mark of our image-bearing is that we’re moved with compassion toward those who suffer. We are called to bear the pain of others, especially in the moments when that pain is at its greatest. It can be tough work, but it is the most Christ-like work we’ll ever do, and it conforms us to the image of Jesus himself.
Who would think that offering a cold cup of water in Jesus’ name could be
as simple yet profound as choosing a gracious spirit and cuddling up for yet another episode of NCIS?