This past week, my almost three year old had to have a minor outpatient surgery. They had to put him to sleep for a short time and I was called back when he was in the recovery room, very slowly waking up from the anesthesia. It was pretty rough. He was moaning and crying and tossing and turning, trying to yank out the I.V., trying to pull off the monitors attached to his body, but all with his eyes closed, obviously not fully aware of what was going on. When I walked in, the nurse was trying to keep him from falling off his bed. I went straight for him and she asked if I wanted to hold him. Yes. Of course!
She helped me get him out of the bed without disturbing the various wires, and I settled in a rocking chair with him. Even though he wasn’t awake, he knew it was me holding him. He immediately tried to snuggle as close to me as possible, still moaning and thrashing around. I held him tight and whispered in his ear, over and over, Mama’s here, it’s ok. Mama’s here. You’re going to be ok. He would settle down for a little bit and then start thrashing around again. And the whole time I was whispering to him, a litany of Presence. I am here. You are not alone. You are safe. Feel me touching you. Feel me holding you. I’ve got you.
As I held him, I thought about comfort. How, in his pain and confusion, he craved physical touch, craved hearing my voice. In essence, what he really needed was to know that he was not alone.
I thought about all the times that I have needed comforting. Even in my forties, I still have an occasional nightmare that jerks me awake panting in sheer terror. In that moment in time, when my heart is racing, and I am still struggling to sort out truth from fiction, all I want is for my husband to hold me. Let me feel your presence, let me know I am not alone. Let me feel protected in your arms.
As a child with his parents or a wife with her husband, physical touch as a form of comfort is acceptable. But, in our less close relationships, we often don’t feel free to touch each other while offering comfort. So, what do we do?
If you think back and remember times that people have comforted you, comfort basically boils down to letting someone know that they are not alone. I am so sorry for the death of your close one. I just want you to know that I’m praying for you. Here’s a token: a card, or a cake, or a casserole…I just want you to know that someone is thinking about you enough to take time to get you something. You are not alone.
Or perhaps when someone is suffering with cancer, we pull up memories of times that we faced cancer with another loved one. And the whole point of bringing up these other stories is that we want to assure them that they are not alone. Other people have walked this same path and had good outcomes.
All this makes me wonder, is loneliness actually the worst thing that we can face? When I think about all the times that I have been sad or heartbroken, I can say, yes, it has stemmed from some kind of loneliness. Perhaps missing friends, perhaps fear of losing someone close to me, perhaps being overwhelmed with life and feeling like I have no one to help me. No one who cares.
Two days ago I posted a blog about struggling with depression. I posted it on my Facebook and my friends came out in droves to comfort me. We’re here Esther! We love you! How can we help you? Have you tried these solutions? It was comfort. An offering of Presence from over the internet.
Thank you all.
We were made to be in relationship. Not alone. Relationship with God. Relationship with each other.
“It is not good that the man should be alone…” Gen 2:18a
Thanks for being my friends and easing that loneliness.