GENDUSA COLUMN: Outside my window

Published 11:30 am Wednesday, November 30, 2022

It was early Thanksgiving morning, and the streets were empty as I drove to the hospital. A misty rain fell as I scurried to the entrance, where I waited until the clock announced it was time to allow visitors to see loved ones. 

My husband was sitting in his room’s recliner on the fifth floor, where all cardiac patients reside after open heart surgery. He was finishing his breakfast, and I needed more coffee since sleep seemed a distant luxury. Suddenly, the monitor above and behind him began to beep loudly with a heart rate number that soared to the stratosphere. It flashed orange, the noise zoomed louder, and I panicked. “What’s wrong?” he questioned when he noticed the fear in my eyes.

Hospital staff began running into his room in less than a few quick minutes. So many dressed in white and blue that I left so they could reach David amid wires and tubes. At the end of the hall, I gazed out the window and thought it was pouring rain on the muddy construction area below, but it was only my eyes streaming tears. 

After a while and much work, his heart rate lowered a tad, and I returned to his side. David, one of the strongest men I know, was now lying in a bed, holding my hand to find comfort. Out of the blue, and after many healthy physicals, blood tests, and a life filled with active sports, my iron man needed to rest. 

The hospital permitted me to stay the night to help ease both of us. David’s heartbeats stayed slightly below the number that caused a monitor to scream throughout the rest of the day and into the night. I was afraid to sleep as if I could control anything happening to those scrambled lines, high numbers, and chaotic dance rhythms displaying a functioning heart.

“Please, God, bring that heart rate down!” I pleaded a little before 2 am Friday morning. Two minutes later, just as I was about to sit down, something or someone told me to recheck the screen. When I did, the dancing lines were now performing a slow waltz. And the number had dropped 64 beats and was now at normal speed.  I called the nurse.

Once she saw the waltz’s slow cadence, she excitedly proclaimed, “There must be an angel in this room!”

It was late on Friday night when I finally reached the entrance to my subdivision. Thanksgiving was over, and I envied those who had earlier dined with family laughing about old memories and holding hands in prayer.  Christmas trees sparkled behind windows, and the big lighted tree near the lake threw colors into the water below. 

As my car wound through the streets, I felt like I was behind a locked window, looking in awe at the rest of the world.  While others gathered to celebrate, they, along with their holiday joy, were somewhere out there, just not in my view. 

As tired as I was, when my head touched the softness of my pillow, my eyes would not close. My heart raced with uncertainty amid a million random thoughts. I prayed for calm and heard the voice again, “Lynn, trust me as you always have. Christmas joy is not found outside the window in lights and festivities. Instead, it is found inside your heart where I am and will always remain. Lean unto me and celebrate that I am with you.”

No soul on earth has not experienced the sad, brutal days of living. Those days when hope is distant, fear is present, and “what ifs” abound. Yet in those dark hours when life seems to belong to others, an angel can walk into your room, and a message will illuminate your heart.

Thanks to talented doctors, caring nurses, and countless prayers, my husband today sits in his recliner at home, attached only to the remote, watching football. Our holidays will be different this year, but our joy and thankfulness will abound. 

If there is one thing I am assured of in life, God is always with us in our victories and pain. He pulls us out of our darkness and into his bright light, giving us peace and hope.  Yes, Christmas is not found outside our windows; it is within us all year long.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” — John 14:27