It’s hard to believe that my favorite heart stopped beating four Fridays ago. And then started again. And then stopped again. And then, well, for those that have been reading along, you know the ‘and then’.
I know someday will be “just another Friday”, but for now – and the foreseeable future – I’m counting. Today is Friday number FOUR from “that Friday.” Friday and I have always had a thing – but more in the abstract, the idea of Friday as a season, which emerged from the disciple Peter’s experiences on that fateful “Good Friday.” When shock, loss, and mourning collide. When the unreal becomes real. I’ve always said my “first Friday” was going through infertility – our unplanned unparenthood. Heck, even the Bible Study I wrote is called, of all things, ‘Friday’s Rain.’ Walking through my proverbial Friday is how I learned that lament is worship and what it means to praise a GOOD God in the midst of UNGOOD feels and reals.
So it’s not lost on me that “the call” came on a Friday, too. The literal and figurative Fridays colliding in a scene that is still surreal, though the flashbacks hit with shocking realism.
This morning I woke up thinking about all that I didn’t know four Fridays ago. ICU-Nurses-turned-friends. Campus-security-officers-turned-heroes. A hospital I didn’t know existed. Medical terms that were previously obscure and irrelevant to me. Doctors I would hug. A naivety and innocence that I didn’t know was naïve and innocent.
But also the depth of community, the power of prayer, and the LIVING nature of Scripture. Just how rich we are in friends. Just how miraculous each breath is. These are all things I knew, but now I KNOW.
This morning my guy decided that it was time to kick me out for a little beach time before I went to therapy – both some of the healthiest things for my soul. When I got down to the water, the clouds were still perfectly thick, keeping everything sleepy and just the right amount of Southern California chilly. But as it generally does, the sun started to fight off the clouds, and as I took in the sun’s warmth, I thought about how the last few weeks have felt just like that … a taking in of the sun as it slowly burns off the clouds. And makes your eyes burn if you stare right at it.
Direct staring not recommended, but paying attention: highly recommended. Walking the beach, I thought of my hours in the ICU, where I remember wondering if there would be a day that I’d walk the beach again in full contentment. And while I don’t miss the hospital or that ICU room, there’s one thing I do miss. Okay two. Okay three.
First, the definition within its walls. Second, Nurse Nancy. And third, the breakfast burritos.
The second two I can go visit. The first, the definition, may sound like a weird thing to miss- because a hospital is full of UNdefined possibilities, more questions than answers, chaos, and is constantly ON. But one thing a hospital does just right is having a single focus: LIFE. Life has one very specific, distinct, simple meaning in a hospital, especially the cardiac floor. You watch the heart. You watch it’s rythym, it’s beat, it’s pace, it’s consistency. Life inside the hospital walls means one thing. Watch the heart, keep it beating.
Life outside the hospital walls is not so simple. And that’s SO GOOD, and so healthy, and a little tricky. Because life outside the hospital walls includes deadlines and decisions and diets and directions and dog-hair and dust and deep sighs.
And still, watching the heart. Yes the physical – low sodium, cardiac rehab, etc. But also the heart-heart. The soul-part. The one that doesn’t come with a monitor – but oh my gosh can you imagine if it did!? Yikes. Because even when everything changes, you still bring the same self to the table. You’re forever different, but you’re also not.
Watch the heart, for it is deep, and varied. It can take in wonders, and can expand beyond what you thought possible, and ache in unknown places, and echo dazzling light and love. Watch it. Watch your hot-mess heart as it LIVES. I think you’ll be surprised what you find, whether it’s a Friday or “just another Friday.” One sign of LIFE returning this week were the tears and the laughter and then the laughing-tears when a kinda rough conversation led to Jason saying to me, “You know you’re the hot mess that I WANT to do life with, right?” You better believe that I laugh-cried right then and there.
You guys, these hearts of ours. Goodness they are a sacred mystery. They need watching. They have a lot to process and prioritize and participate in. And maybe life outside the hospital walls isn’t all that different from life within: watch the heart, keep it beating.