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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Clergyman's Visit

The following is a creative account of one evening ten years ago when Hillary had bilateral hip surgery to correct a leg length discrepancy and disjointed hips.

It was the quiet time of the evening in the pediatric ward as the mother sat reading a Dean Koontz novel. She was too young to be old, but too old to be young. The best you could say was that she was born in the last years of the baby boom, and her youngest boomlet lay recovering from double hip surgery in the hospital bed next to her chair. In a full body cast and heavily sedated, the only noise in the room was her breathing and the tick of the IV pump. As her mother lost herself in the book, she reveled in the quiet. Just as she reached a particularly creepy part of the story, a voice came out of nowhere and caused her to jump and give a little yelp. She looked up into the kind face of a young clergyman who was doing his rounds in the university hospital, seeking those who needed a bit of comfort as their children recovered from surgery or illness. She laughed and apologized for yelping, just as he apologized for interrupting her and giving her a fright. She put the book aside and gave her full attention to the visitor.

It was at times awkward as the two sat there in the quiet room, noises from the hall and other patient rooms filtering in through the partially closed door. He tried to offer some comfort as best he could while she attempted to give him the short version of her daughter’s medical history from the past 9 years. She realized that each of them found themselves in the position of trying to explain the unexplainable. He however had the advantage of being trained for this. They managed pretty well, falling back on the way they met for a chuckle. The visit lasted about a half an hour and he seemed reluctant to leave. This was a mother who wasn’t hysterical, or even close to tears. Rather, she had the manner of someone who was on retreat, relaxed as she was although she did seem a bit tired. The child made not a sound while he was there, and her mother frequently looked over at her and gently touched her face from time to time.

The visit ended with a prayer for healing for the girl, and comfort and strength for her mother. They wished each other a good night and he left. The mother picked up her book and continued reading with a more tranquil feeling than she’d had before.

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