Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Welcome To The "Five and Dime"

I stepped into the empty elevator at the Intermountain Medical Center - shiny new metal walls only flawed by one or two small toddler handprints at knee level. Evidence of tiny visitors sometime earlier in the day.

I'd been up and down on that elevator now several times with my meetings with the financial office and getting Paul's check-out meds from the pharmacy.

Jumping in right before the door closed a gray-haired man in a suit joined me. I had already pushed the floor "10" button. Out of breath the man touched button number "5". My heart sank for him - candidly and sadly my eyes followed the button, to his shaking hand, to his arm, to his burdened shoulder, to his wearied face - and there focused on his overwhelmed expression. I knew the 5th floor. The 5th floor is ICU.

Immediately I felt connected to this man - and heartbroken for him.

"I know the 5th floor," I said as understandingly and as kindly as I could. "My husband had been there for several days last week. He's now on the 10th floor." Don't know why but I wanted this man to know that people get better even when it looks grim - I wanted him to have hope.

His eyes brightened. "My father is there. Hopefully soon we can move him up and out too."

"They do a great job there. Soon he'll be on a different floor I'm sure." I echoed smiling -

What an interesting thing that can be communicated with simple words.

Underneath all of that small talk was the message - "I understand your grief, your fear, your anxiety - and how this crisis is changing your life today. Please know you're not alone. There is hope in this."

Sometimes there is nothing about the situation today that can be changed. Sometimes just knowing you are not alone is enough to make it through. Sometimes our pain just needs to be seen and validated.

Welcome to the 5 and dime. All of us, on every level, are moving up and out - we just don't want to do it alone. God's mercy and Jesus' sacrificial life says we don't have to. There is always hope.