Hospital sleeping arrangements are the worst. When we had our daughter, she was in the NICU, and they transferred us to an older room at the end of the hallway. All night long we would hear carts and medical personal traveling back and forth. I was so incredibly ready to go home at the end of that week and sleep in my own bed.
When Kara would end up in the hospital, she would often have a girlfriend stay with her so that Jason could be home with the kids. One night I slept in a chair next to her bed. It kept trying to eat me. Not literally, of course, but it would fold up like an accordion while I was attempting to sleep. I had to press my feet and toes down into the extended part of the chair while trying to rest. Kara was up a lot that night, though, and I’m not sure either of us slept much. If my memory serves me correctly, it was often toward the morning hours that she would finally succumb to a few hours of rest.
Near the end, when Kara was in hospice care, I stayed with her another time. We were writing Just Show Up at the time and we had things to discuss about the book. That was Kara, always thinking and going, even when cancer was trying to stop her. When nighttime came, I settled onto the pull out couch—a luxury in the hospital. As time progressed into the night, Kara was in a lot of pain. The nurses would come and try to help her. Adjust her medicine. Trying to bring her comfort.
I drifted in and out, but was awake enough to hear them talking and strategizing. I suppose I should have gotten out of that bed that night. I heard it all. I don’t know that I ever even told Kara I was awake. Partly because I didn’t want her to think she’d woken me. I didn’t want her feeling bad about something silly like that. But mostly, I didn’t get out of that bed because there was nothing I could do.
I couldn’t fix Kara’s pain. The ones who could help were doing their best. I would have likely been in the way. So I prayed. I prayed throughout that whole night. Silent on that pull out couch, my heart breaking at my friend’s pain.
I never told her that I heard all of that. She probably knew. Or maybe she wondered why I didn’t say anything during that long night. I hope she knows I prayed my heart and soul out for her. That I begged God for relief on her behalf. I hope she knows I just didn’t know what else to do.
Sometimes, we just can’t fix it. The suffering that’s staring us down. The pain of a loved one. Nothing is as debilitating as that. Sometimes we only have Jesus and whispered prayers.
As I get to this part of my writing, I’m smiling through tears because when I used to write for Kara, she would want me to bring it all back to Jesus. I was more of the type to say, Hey, this right here sucks. It just does. And leave it at that. (Sorry if I offended you with my language, but stinks wasn’t a big enough word.)
But Kara, she always brought it back to trusting God. To believing in something and someone we can’t physically touch while on this earth. She had enough faith for the two of us (and more) combined, I sometimes think.
God was with us that night. He never left Kara’s side. It’s hard to reconcile that with her pain, but I know it’s true. In all of her suffering, Kara never doubted him. Not once.
Pain lasts for a night, but joy comes in the morning. Kara’s pain is no more. There’s no more sleepless nights. No worries. No fears. She is completely draped in peace every moment. And that is the promise I hold onto when I think of that time.
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