In Texas Children’s Hospital’s sprawling buildings, sits a food court a few floors up. Light from spacious, more-than-two story glass floods the space. Surprisingly great smells usually fill the colorful space with half of everyone clad in med chic and the rest in civies. The closer to Christmas, the fewer the clientele, and on a Saturday, it was spooky quiet. Only clean air came from dark kitchens.
My oldest son, Colt was upstairs in Coronary Intensive Care. He resembled a splayed frog with 27 bags dripping into him in all four appendages it seemed, to leverage him out of the 48 hour night following his surgery.
Our kind surgeons were great, but honest. They carry a small, but unflinching number of souls who do not exit that 48 hour night on this side of life. Colt was in great shape, but twice as old as others having surgery.
I hate that food court.
All my knowledge and training was suspended. I could do nothing but pray, like other parents scattered at tables eating to subsist and get back to their kids. Nothing but pray as had other parents whose children fell into that small, unflinching number.
Life’s stunning gift looms larger than what we barely understand. My son in the most sterile place we can make, still carried more hitchhikers in him than we have identified.
If he lived, I could thank surgeons, doctors, nurses, vampires, specialists, the hospital concierge, and cleaning people. But all their best, left me with an inexplicable space. Who or what fills the space between proficient practitioners and a child leaving the hospital alive? Christmas loomed. I thanked God Who entered that inexplicable space. His Son was wrapped in non-sterile swaddling strips and laid in a dirty manger. His caretaker, a teen with zero medical training, took Him to Egypt in an endurance event.
It was as if the God who sent His Son, held my son upstairs, and popped into my food court for a flicker for a father learning helplessness. Practicing it.
Colt came out of CCICU. We spent nights in his room. He joked about the food, matching scars, and enjoyed friends travelling hundreds of miles — to see him. He rested in life’s guaranteed moments of helplessness. Amazingly, we made it home for Christmas.
As I write, my sister Mitzi Deal, and her beloved Greg are practicing helplessness as their daughter, Jodie, has a tumor on her Pineal Gland excised in one to five hours, followed by a day or so in ICU, just a block down from my food court.
Mitzi is funny. She will tell you she’s learning faith, not helplessness.
Actually, I savor my moments in that food court in the late afternoon sun reminding me of Who lights all inexplicable spaces.