It is strange, I have so much to write about, but no words. Normally, when faced with a crisis, I am able to talk or write myself out of it, but this one seems too big. I have dealt with a lot of death in my life, I am not a stranger to it, however, this one felt different.
I didn’t know Lauren well, but over time I became very close to her mother, Kathleen. Kathleen and I worked together and enjoyed similar topics of conversation. Although I hadn’t met all of Kathleen’s family, I felt as if I knew them well from updates I received. When a daughter moved or had a child or got married, I was able to celebrate from afar and watch as Kathleen’s joy spread from her heart to her smile.
Two weeks ago, I received a text from a mutual friend of ours letting me know that Kathleen was at the hospital with her 24-year-old daughter, Lauren. Through a series of events that seemed divinely inspired, I was finally able to have a chance to visit Kathleen at the hospital and I saw her beautiful Lauren who was being kept alive by machines.
I’d been having conversations with God about my willingness to help others. The night before I saw Kathleen, God presented me with the idea that anyone can throw money at a problem to solve it, but the kind of help He wanted me to provide was much more time intensive and required effort. I had no idea what He was preparing me for.
To hear my friend’s strong and fierce voice break down into intermittent squeaks and attempted wailing hurt my heart. She had lost her voice partly from a cold she had developed and partly due to her screams. Screams for recognition, screams for help, screams of frustration and anger and so much sorrow her human frame couldn’t contain it.
At one point, Kathleen was certain if Lauren could see her – if she could stand in Lauren’s line of sight, if Lauren saw how much her mother wanted her to come back, she was certain Lauren would. I watched helplessly watching as this mother, who’s body had formed Lauren’s desperately sought recognition from empty eyes.
I watched in despair as Kathleen looked at me and asked, “Did you notice any changes? Do you think she saw me?” I had to truthfully answer, “I think she sees you – but from a different place.”
I honestly told her, “I wish I could take it all away.” I believed her when she said, “I can’t do this!” and I knew that even though it felt impossible, she would make it another day.
I’m sure if it could, a mother’s grief would cause earthquakes, would rip the sky in two, would cause a downpour of rain short of a flood. I imagined how Mary might have felt, mourning her son who was first beaten and then humiliated in front of hundreds of people before he was slowly murdered in front of her. I stand in awe of her capacity to suffer and grieve. Even knowing what she knew, she grieved. Even knowing what we know, a mother still grieves.
That evening, when I reunited with my own children, I instinctively held them a little longer and a little tighter.
Shortly after visiting Kathleen, I received a text from another woman I hold near to my heart. She explained there was going to be an intervention for her son and she was wondering if Chris and I would be willing to pray for them and participate if needed.
We love this friend like a brother, he is considered part of our family so we didn’t even have to think twice. Of course we would help in whatever way we could. It turned out our physical presence wasn’t needed, but she would text us to let us know the outcome.
I never considered that he might refuse treatment or help. I believed if he were confronted with people who loved him, if they stood in his line of sight – he would come back.
I received a text from his mother saying he refused treatment.
I began seeing flashbacks of Kathleen, standing in her Lauren’s vision, begging her daughter to come back. I could see my friend’s mother standing in his vision, begging him to come back.
Lauren couldn’t even if she wanted to. He could, but he HAD to want to.
I think that was the deep wailing that began to emerge from me. The seemingly unfair state of it all. A body that would come to life if it could and a life that would become a body if it could.
The irony of it all sometimes consumes me.
I want to know. I want to look at these two situations and figure them out. I want them to make sense. But they don’t. Just like hundreds of thousands of unanswered questions in the universe and the world, our communities and our homes.
Although my heart is in complete shambles because I can’t heal either one of these people so dear to me, I have never felt hopeless. Helpless, perhaps, but not hopeless.
The night that Lauren passed away, it stormed. Thunder, lightning, pouring rain. On Saturday, the sun broke through the clouds and warmed the window Kathleen had escaped to after finally acknowledging Lauren was gone. On Sunday, when her family gathered and removed Lauren from the machines that had been sustaining her, rainbows appeared in the evening sky.
I was reminded God can turn storms into rainbows.