I spent some time in Rochester this week. My sister was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer. On Wednesday she had a very successful surgery, and she is now recovering just a block away from me at our parents home.
When situations like a serious illness arise, it is always stressful. But there are also great opportunities for learning and growth … for everyone. I have every confidence that this is a learning experience for my sister and for our entire family. And, it brings us together as a family even closer than we already are.
My sister (at least to my knowledge) has never felt like she ever gets any signs from her oldest niece - my daughter Liz. I’m always sad about that and I keep asking Liz to do something and hoping that one day it will happen.
Last week I said, “OK Liz, if there ever was a time when you needed to connect with Auntie, this is it.” Of course, anyone who knows Liz, knows that you can ask, plead, and beg and she still might not do it. (some things just never change.)
Wednesday was a long day of waiting. I had forgotten about Liz and was just trying to keep myself occupied with the magazines and books I had brought along to pass the time. Rochester is such a fantastic medical facility. They take care of everyone in such great ways. We had continuous contact with a nurse who kept us informed of how the surgery was progressing. And, we hadn’t even gotten into the pre-op room yet, and we had a chaplain there to offer a prayer for my sister and our family.
About 3 pm another nurse came in to tell us she would be taking us up to Sue’s room. She was in recovery and would be back soon.
She said, “Hello, Baldwin family! My name is Liz and I’ll be taking you up to the 6th floor.” I just broke out laughing! Everyone looked at me with confused expressions … what on earth is funny? I said, “Really, your name is Liz?” And I tried hard to end my laughing. By this time Liz the nurse probably thought I had cracked under the stress. I finally got it out that my daughter’s name was Liz. Oh, she said nodding, still thinking I must be a few marbles short.
But you see, it was no coincidence that Liz the nurse was involved in our activities that day. That was my Liz’s way of letting me know she was present! Of course, there are those who will say, oh no it was simply a coincidence … and of course, they have every right to believe that if they choose.
But think about this – if you were very present with your family, only they couldn’t see or hear you, how would you let them know you were there? (without scaring them). Through other people … and then you hope like heck somebody picks up on it and figures it out.
I’ve been fortunate these past 5 years because those signs always seem to me to be as obvious as the nose on my face.
I don’t know if anything else happened while we were in Rochester, but Liz did make her presence known … and that’s a wonderful thing.