The Little Things

It’s 12:40 on Thursday morning, and I’m sitting in ER room 13. It’s as dark in here as I’ve ever seen an ER room, and that’s good, because my son Zach doesn’t like any light when he’s sleeping. To avoid embarrassing any of the principals in this story, I’m not telling you why he’s here. It’s one of those pedestrian things that happens with kids, and after several overnight checks he will go home no worse for wear. But for now, we are here.

As Zach sleeps on his twin bed (even lightly snoring now), I am reminded the extraordinary privilege behind being a caregiver. Just before he drifted off, Zach and I had an exchange that went like this:

Zach: Go home.
Me: Not yet. Let’s stay here for a while and sleep. We can go home later.
Zach: Go home. He stretches this out, getting his money’s worth out of every letter – the guttural entry of the H, an O that modulates and bends in the middle, an M that leaves the word practically suspended in air, an open-mouthed “mmmma”.
Me: no, let’s go to sleep here.

This goes on for a while.

Eventually I convey to him that we are going to stay for a while, and I’ll be with him the whole time, and this is enough to let him drift off to rest. When we sleep, we are totally vulnerable, and going to sleep in a strange place requires either total exhaustion or a special sort of trust. He accepts that I will be here, that nothing will happen without me. He does not like the blood pressure cuff tonight, but if I put it on him, he accepts it, and locks eyes on me as the machine does its work.

For someone to allow us to be their caregiver, they cede incredible trust to us. I should be thankful every time someone trusts me enough to care for them. Parents, adult children, relatives and friends, remember that when someone allows you to protect them, that they have paid you an enormous compliment, and that you are entering into something holy with them. You are like God to them in their greatest vulnerability, and they trust you enough to put their life in your hands.

Never grow bored with the beautiful opportunity God has put into our hands.

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