My son has been in the hospital for three days now.
I have cried more than I thought possible.
I have prayed more than I thought possible.
I have worried more than I thought possible.
And I have found more encouragement and hope in the midst of this, than I ever thought possible.
Right now, I am three floors away from my sick little guy, drinking coffee in the hospital cafeteria. Although writing a blog post at a time like this might seem odd and even a little crazy, I am down here typing furiously, because it allows me to feel a little bit normal for an hour or two.
And nothing, nothing at all, has been normal for days.
We have some of the best doctors in the nation, the kindest nursing staff I have ever seen, an amazing treatment plan, and even car attendants who smile and encourage me every time I am in the garage.
We are in such good hands.
For the past few mornings, I have felt a surge of emotion, before even opening my eyes. The fear, anxiety, and sadness threaten to take over, before I am even fully awake.
I have been praying, drinking coffee, trying to read the Bible, drinking more coffee, and again, praying my way through it.
The most tangible expression of God’s grace and mercy in this difficult time, has been the love I have felt from friends, near and far.
If you know a momma with a child in the hospital for any reason at all, I want to encourage you that your friendship and support matter more than you can possibly know.
How To Help
Don’t be worried or take it personally if she doesn’t respond to your text message, phone call, email or Facebook message – send them anyway!
I have had almost no coverage or even real access to my phone for the past 48 hours. The only way I even see a message, is when I step outside for a breath of fresh, not hospital smelling air. When I see them, I am so very encouraged. Sometimes, I am in a hurry and cannot take the time respond. Or words simply fail me in that moment. Or tears spring up and I need to try and get myself under control before heading back in to my son.
But the thought matters. Send away, with no expectation of a response, and your friend will thank you for it later.
This might just be me, but rather than flowers, or balloons or anything like that, I have been the most blessed and loved by all the cozy comforts my friends have brought us. A soft throw blanket made me cry tears of gratitude last night. A plush teddy bear that my son said felt “like butter” made him visibly relax for the first time in hours. A wonderful smelling lotion made the world seem right again.
If you are planning to send a gift, my recommendation is comfort items first, at least in the initial days of hospitalization.
Pray and Pray Some More
For me, no gift could possibly match the comfort I feel knowing that so many mommas are praying for my son. Offer to pray. Text and say you are praying. If your friend is not comfortable with prayer or even adverse (I know a momma who professes to be an atheist – she was furious every time someone said they were praying for her son, but loved it when they said they had her in their thoughts), I imagine a message wishing love and peace might have a similar effect.
But still, as much as possible, please, please pray.
Life Goes On
At some point, your friend will likely return home and so will her child. There will be so much relief and rejoicing. There will also be added stress, pressure and instability. Just because the hospitalization is over, doesn’t mean your friend doesn’t need your support anymore. In fact, as siblings and spouses transition back to normal, all the outpatient treatments begin, the hospital bills begin to roll in, and reality crashes in like a wrecking ball. The truth is, she may need you more after the hospitalization.
Right now, I have the luxury of not dealing with a single part of my real life. I don’t do dishes, I am not sure what bills still need to be paid this month, I know the laundry is piling up, and eating out is just how we roll. And I could care less.
But at some point, I will have to go back to my daily life. I can’t wait – and I also know it will have it’s own set of challenges.
After seeing the outpouring of love and support for us this week, I know we are going to be OK no matter what the next weeks and months may bring.
And if we’re not, I can rest knowing I have friends that will help.
Shawna Wingert is a former training and development professional turned education specialist, and has homeschooled her two children for the last ten years.Shawna has written four books about homeschooling unique learners and has been featured in homeschooling discussions on Today.com, The Mighty, Simple Homeschool, My Little Poppies and Raising Lifelong Leaners.
You can find her online here at DifferentByDesignLearning.com.