Friday, October 3, 2008

Where does it hurt?

I'm down on my knees again tonight. I'm hoping this prayer will turn out right. See there is a boy that needs Your help. I've done all that I can do myself. His mother is tired. I'm sure You can understand. Each night as he sleeps, she goes in to hold his hand, and she tries not to cry as the tears fill her eyes. Can You hear me? Am I getting through tonight? Can You see him? Can You make him feel all right? If You can hear me, let me take his place somehow. See, he's not just anyone, he's my son. Sometimes late at night I watch him sleep. I dream of the boy he'd like to be. I try to be strong and see him through, but God who he needs right now is You. Let him grow old, live life without this fear. What would I be living without him here. He's so tired and he's scared. Let him know that You're there. Can You hear me? Can You see him? Please don't leave him, he's my son. (Mark Schultz song - "He's My Son")

I was born with a hole in my heart, more specifically - an Atrial Septal Defect (ASD). An ASD is a type of congenital heart defect in which there is an abnormal opening in the dividing wall between the upper filling chambers of the heart. In most cases ASD's are diagnosed and treated successfully with few or no complications. My hole was found early on by my pediatrician (Dr. Silverstein) and when I was five years old, I had open-heart surgery to repair the hole. (Thank you Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh!) During my time in the hospital, (I don't remember how long I was there, maybe several days?), I remember lots of little things - the taste of "cotton" in my mouth as I was "going to sleep" before my operation. Wearing socks to bed for some strange reason. Playing with some of the other little girls who were in the same wing as I was. This cute little yellow pajama set I wore while I was there that had cheerleaders on it. The newspaper coming to take my picture, and that I was fine until I saw my parents through the window of my room door and then I went berserk! I remember that I couldn't see my brother because he was too young, at 11. I remember this yellow stuffed dachshund dog the doctors and nurses signed before I left, as well as everyone I could find to share it with at home when I got back. I held on to that dog for a long time. I cherished that dog. I remember all those things. If you ask my mom or dad, I'm sure they would remember a lot more, different things, things difficult for a parent to remember, not because of the time that has passed, but because of the memories themselves. The one memory that I know both my parents could tell you about, that I didn't find out until much later, is that one time when my dad asked if anything hurt, I told him... my heart hurt. My heart hurt. I don't know if I had just come out of surgery or was going in, but to have your 5-year old child tell you that their "heart hurt" had to have been one of the most excruciating things in the world for my dad to hear. I don't know. I just don't know what I would have done. Got down on my knees and prayed? Walked away so they wouldn't see the tears streaming down my face? Screamed and yelled because I was totally helpless to do anything to make the hurt go away? I just don't know.

I don't always know "where it hurts" when one of my own children does get hurt. I don't always know how to make the hurt go away. I don't always react the way I should, because sometimes there are no words, nothing to do or say that will make the hurt any better, except time and an ice pack if that's what is needed. Sometimes, my girls can't tell me where it hurts, or how it hurts, just that it does. Isn't that good enough? To know that they're hurting and that they need you. And somehow, just somehow, you need to make the pain GO AWAY. What can I do to make this sometimes invisible pain go away? Tell my children how much I love them. Hold them until the tears stop. Pray. Pray to God that even though I don't know what kind of pain they have, or even where it is, that He does and that He can make them feel better. We can't always make the hurt go away, and we can't always tell someone else "where it hurts". But, God knows. He knows every hurt that we've had. He knows why we're hurting, where we're hurting and how long we've been hurting. Don't be afraid to tell God "where it hurts" and to let Him heal you...