The brain-stormers gathered in Coeur d’Alene again this year, and I’ve no doubt half a dozen books will come forth over the next twelve months and beyond. One of our gals (Gayle DeSalles) did a devotional. I always have my pen handy because I know she will dive deep and bring up thoughts and questions to ponder in the weeks and months ahead.
She talked about how childhood events impact us throughout our lives. Especially events that may not seem traumatic to an adult, but to a child are life changing.
I had acute appendicitis at the age of eight, was sent by ambulance to the hospital where I had emergency surgery. I don’t remember either of my parents being in that ambulance. Perhaps there was a rule they couldn’t go along. I don’t remember seeing them immediately after surgery. I was probably too dopey to notice. I don’t remember seeing much of them at all over the next few days. They were both working; my dad as a police officer and my mother, a nurse at the VA Hospital.
Over the years, whenever I got a cold, no matter how severe, it wasn’t an excuse to stay home. A fever meant an aspirin, not a day in bed. Mom and Dad had to work. I wasn’t as sick as the people who needed her undivided attention, or my dad who was solving cases in the forensic lab at Santa Rita. So I got up, got dressed, went down to the bus stop and went to school with a handful of tissues stuffed in my little purse or lunch bag. I wasn’t happy about it, but I understood the realities.
When I was fifteen, I was hospitalized again after falling off a horse and compressing the discs in my lower spine, an injury that plagues me to this day. I was in so much pain, I couldn’t move. Again, I had a ride in an ambulance. Again, my parents were unable to spend any time at the hospital during my five-day stay.
During my freshman year of college, one of my friends noticed my sudden weight loss and lack of energy and insisted I see a doctor who promptly had me hospitalized. My parents called to check on me, but had jobs and people counting on them. They didn’t have time for an out-of-state trip so they could sit with me.
As a child in a hospital, I was frightened, lonely, confused. I didn’t understand why my parents didn’t come. I’m sure they reassured me, but a child doesn’t always understand words. I knew after that first stay, cared for by strangers, that as much as my parents loved me, I should not expect them to take time off work to sit at my bedside and hold my hand. I learned not to cry. Tears only made other people uncomfortable.
Until my friend talked about her experiences, I had all but forgotten mine. I learned from those hospital stays that whatever difficulties I go through, there are always others going through far worse. People can’t always be there for you, no matter how much they want to be. Looking back now, I also understand I was never alone. God was always with me, watching over me, an ever-presence always-loving Father in times of need.