Story by Irene Budzynski
The night shift had finally ended. It was one of the worst nights I could remember in 10 years. No matter what I had done, it didn’t seem as if I had accomplished anything of value. The hospital was unusually full, and the patients especially needy. Eight hours weren’t enough time to get all my tasks completed, so I’d stayed an extra hour to finish. I drove home crying in frustration, nerve fibers stretched to maximum exhaustion.
Too tired to walk into the house, I sat on the front porch well past the hour of dawn’s coolness and rocked in the wicker chair, oblivious to the weight-bearing heat on my skin. Devoid of energy, there was nothing left for me to do but to allow the sun’s rays to warm me, wishing I was one of those people who didn’t get so emotionally involved with my patients. I gripped the rounded curves of the oversized arms and pushed myself back and forth, chanting, “Why, why, why?” with the creaking rhythm.
My heart had been torn to shreds by a gentle giant whose illness I couldn’t stop, whose pain I couldn’t halt. Cancer had been invading his body cell by cell and all the years of training and experience and all the magical pills and potions couldn’t stop it. Isaiah was dying. Nature was taking its course, and man had no power to reverse it.
A look of wide-eyed surprise and stiffening of his body were the only clues that he was suffering. He’d clutch his stomach and call out, “Lord, take it away. Please, Lord, take it away.” The prescribed medication wasn’t touching the racking pain rolling in waves through his system. Helplessly I gripped his hand and prayed aloud with him until the bout of agony had ended. The night crept along, second by second, as Isaiah waited for the next attack to render him helpless, knowing that death lurked in the shadows, ever vigilant.
When I turned him to his side to make him more comfortable, swaddled with pillows, he squeezed my fingers and repeated, “Oh, God is so good. God is so good. Thank you, miss. Thank you.”
When he had an episode of heavy bleeding from his wounds, he was bathed, dressings were changed, and his linens were replaced, but still he didn’t complain. When asked what could be done for him, he replied, “I just want to sit and talk to my Master. I need to talk to my Master right now.” He lay back, eyes closed, and murmured prayers of worship.
During brief interludes of respite we held hands, patient and nurse, the words spilling over from my heart. My tears fell on my lap as I leaned over Isaiah to fix yet another bleeding wound, reminded of someone else who had suffered over 2,000 years ago. Had the women of Jerusalem felt this same anguish? Had they railed about their own impotence as did I?
I was the silent witness to Isaiah’s Calvary. Nursing care could temporarily beat back the discomfort, but he alone would walk the final walk with God. To be in communion with his Creator in preparation for their meeting was a sacred rite that couldn’t be trespassed upon by mere mortals.
Before I left him to the care of the day shift, I tiptoed into his room and kissed both his cheeks. Words were unnecessary, but I wanted to open my heart.
“You are one of the bravest people I know, Isaiah. You have every right to whine to God about your situation, but, you pray for Him to be with you and to hold you in His arms while you suffer. You have opened a window for me and through it I have seen a glimpse of what it must have been like for Jesus. You are my hero.”
A tear rolled down his face and he gripped my hands. “I am looking forward to seeing you in heaven.” Nodding my head, I left his side.
Safe on my porch, I asked for forgiveness for all the times I had complained about insignificant problems in my life, for my doubting and questioning. Then I prayed for grace to walk my walk with the same dignity and faith as did Isaiah. Rising from the chair, I felt the peace that comes when one has witnessed the work of God, and I gave praise.
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