Friday, November 12, 2010

A bloody afternoon

Note to begin:  If you're squeamish, you might want to skip this one.

So here's the thing.  I'm a woman.  And as such, I've been well-acquainted with blood.  Yes, I said that, and meant it.  Though we don't talk about it in polite (read that to mean mixed because women together often get to this), I'm even used to seeing blood in the bathroom, especially in the toilet.  There were a few times I hoped for it, and many more I frankly loathed the sight.  And most women my age have lived between these two feelings. 

And I also link the final days of my father's life with blood in the bathroom.  The hemorrhage that took him, wrapped in a towel from the linen closet, into the car and to the hospital for the last time, began with some blood in the bathroom.  Blood that my niece SE kindly cleaned up after Mom drove him away.  So there is this association of blood on a bathroom floor for me.

And this is an association that rose up to choke me this afternoon when, just 45 minutes after I'd settled J on the couch after his day-surgery to excise a cyst, he said, "I'm bleeding through my shorts."  I helped him into the bathroom and when he dropped those shorts, the blood flowed down his leg and onto the floor into a puddle.  Twenty minutes and a couple of pints later (or so it seemed), we were at the hospital, where he was opened up again, re-'packed', and now is spending the night.  It wasn't until we were told he was spending the night that I finally relaxed.  During his routine cyst removal, somehow an artery at the deepest point, was nicked, and no amount of pressure could stop the blood from flowing.

It was a scary afternoon,  a bloody scary afternoon.  It might not have scared someone with a different history, but I carry mine with me.  When the nurse told me to have J lie down right there on the bathroom floor while she was trying to find the doctor, I definitely thought of how Dad's story ended.  I know J's mind went the same place, because as I was trying to clean up some of the blood around him, he asked, "So Mom, do you know your thirty-nines?" which comes from something Dad asked me that last week.

Sitting by his hospital bed tonight as we waited for the doctor, Beve and J watched "Turner and Hooch" on TV, and I thought of the woman with the hemorrhage. The woman who lived with blood for twelve straight years.  Of course we all live with blood, but when it stays in its place, doing the job it's meant to do, we rarely think about it.  It's only when we somehow start losing blood that it becomes important.  And this woman's blood stubbornly refused to stay within the borders of its rightful place, do the job it was meant to do.  J bled for about 6 hours and that was plenty.  More than plenty.  That woman bled for 12 long years.  Can you imagine that?  Imagine living with the mess in those days--when she had to clean rags by hand and was considered unclean and had to live apart every single day such cleaning was necessary.  So for all those years, she not only bled, but was ostracized by her whole community.  And she was likely anemic.  I was anemic once for several unrelenting months and, at the worst of it, sometimes could hardly walk from one end of the house to the other.  Twelve years of that?

It seems to me that when that woman reached out her hand to touch Jesus, her need was on every level--physical, emotional, social-relational, and spiritual. So the power that went out from Jesus at her touch also wasn't merely to heal her physical need.  Of course.  And He knew it.  Comprehensive power is what she latched onto when she clutched at His cloak.

So as I sat by my son's bed, thinking of his deep physical wound, and knowing that there are others more hidden, like there are for all of us, I reached out for His cloak on my son's behalf.  And reached out to Him to heal my own deep wounds that, though they haven't left me bleeding on a bathroom floor, are deep enough.  He is able to keep me from falling, the Word says.  And, as my son lies in a hospital, his blood hopefully no longer flowing outside the boundaries of flesh, I ask Him to give me peace about my son.  He is able, I say in faith.  To do all this.  To heal the deep wounds, to keep me from falling and to give me peace.

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