It was a few weeks after my first surgery. I had been home just a couple of days. My friend Peggy checked in with me on Facebook. How are you doing? What do you need?
I looked around. The phone was on a side table, left by my husband as he headed out the door. For emergencies, he said. He kissed my forehead and was gone. That phone… Useless, except to dial 9-1-1. The tracheotomy left me unable to speak more than a word or two in a faint whisper.
Also in reach was a stack of devotionals, my Bible, a few breezy Hallmark-channel-like books. Untouched. A basket of pain killers, antibiotics and aspirin sat next to the phone. I clenched the TV remote tight in my right fist, Kleenex for weepy moments in my left. Those were the stuff of my days and nights. I sat and slept in the same chair, I wore the same sweats for days. I slept fitfully, intermittently. My waking time was much the same as my sleeping time.
What can you do? I typed. We were in ministries together at church, but I did not know her well enough to assign her a task.
I surveyed my situation. A friend in rubber gloves was scrubbing toilets. Another was singing softly as she started a casserole. The patio door opened. My youngest sister, her knees black and moist, came in from the garden for trash bags and a rake. The hum of the vacuum cleaner on the stairs stopped as the doorbell rang. Chocolate cake. Yum! Do you want to come in? A low murmur, a voice I did not recognize, and then: OK. I will tell her you stopped by but couldn’t stay.
Lots of people doing busy things. My house was cleaner than it had ever been. My family was fed. What could Peggy do?
Peggy is typing…. And then: I do not do windows or floors. Or toilets. I am a lousy cook, worse at gardening. I am not a nurse. But I can talk. I am a good talker. And I have lots to say.
All this busy but no one sat with me. My mouth was shut. I — imagine this — could not talk. Until that moment, communication seemed implausible.
Please come over. These days, I am good at listening.
She stayed for two hours. She talked. I smiled, nodded, clapped my hands with joy. Peggy is engaging. Encouraging. Wise. Compassionate. Her company was good. For a small while, I felt almost ‘normal’ again.
And then, the busy was over. The cleaners were gone. My sister was in the garden. My husband was at work. Peggy said her goodbyes, and slipped out the door as I settled in for a nap.
The house was quiet. I had little pain. But I could not sleep. There was a desire in my heart.
I picked up my Bible. I am good at listening, I thought. And I have another friend who is engaging. Encouraging. Wise. Compassionate. With lots to say. It was time for me to get to know Him better.