Kentucky doesn’t understand spring so as the sun beat down hotter and hotter Wednesday morning, I moved the brush. I knelt on our patio, stroking stain into the wooden benches. While I moved the brush and chatted with my sons, I prayed. My best friend from college had an emergency c-section with her twins last Friday. They are tiny, the smallest under two pounds. That tiny baby was in critical condition.
One of my most distinct memories is sitting in a Fazoli’s in Lexington, Kentucky, pretending to eat while my own newborn was being prepped for transfer to a different hospital. It was a gorgeous spring day. The sun shone and across the parking lot was a large display of flowers and hanging baskets outside a nursery. The cheerfulness felt like an assault. The sunshine and the flowers didn’t change the fact that the hospital had told us there was nothing they could do for Micah. The attendant the night before had left it at that. The resident that morning had one more idea. I realized, looking out the window, that everyone else was going about their lives, enjoying being alive instead of feeling held hostage in a nightmare.
This was another gorgeous spring day and I was on the other side of the story this time. I was out in the sunshine, prepping my back patio for a season of use. Except I was carrying the pain of my friends. I’ve stood in a hallway, waiting anxiously while a team of professionals tried to place a picc line in my infant. I’ve ridden the high of good news, only to crash to rock bottom a few hours later. Our friends asked us how to weather the ups and downs of the nicu and there was no good answer. You do it because you do not have a choice. And yes, it feels that unbearable the whole time. That’s not the most encouraging answer, but it is the most honest one.
This is the time of year when I tend to relive memories from Micah’s birth anyway. It’s almost his birthday. He will be eleven this year. This time I relive the memories a few weeks early because I cannot share my friend’s experience without doing so. As I bear witness to their pain, I bear witness to my own. I bear witness to every time that Micah has gotten sick and I’ve assumed the worst. I bear witness to every time he’s been transported to a different hospital, to every time that I thought we might have to say goodbye.
I don’t have any tidy wrap-up for these intertwining stories. I only know that bearing witness to my own pain and my own story has given me endurance to bear witness to the pain and stories of others. I have the muscles I need for the prayer they need. It is a gift birthed from my own experience.