Mercy and Grace on a Saturday Morning
Chaplain Wes McIntyre
It is 8:10am on a Saturday morning. I received a page to Kadlec Medical Center. A young woman, still in her teens, had suddenly fallen unconscious at her home.
When I arrive I meet her mother who is alone, waiting outside the ER room as her daughter receives CPR. The agony of those moments was beyond description. The mother neither welcomed me nor pushed me away.
Over the next four hours she allowed me to accompany her through a harrowing morning and early afternoon. After restarting the young woman's heart at least twice, the CAT scan discovered a massive blood clot in the young women's lungs. These things hit suddenly, often with little warning, and are almost always fatal. For some reason this young women was still alive. I offered words to validate the mother's emotions, provided a shoulder to cry on, heard her struggle as she searched for what she maybe had not done to protect her daughter; and I remained present, listening, receiving, seeking to be a source of comfort and strength. Part of me wants to flee these times. It is not easy to remain present to agony. When Christ was on the cross most deserted him and his mother in their agony...most, but not all. John was there. It is possible to be faithful and remain fully present. John becomes my model.
I felt the need for strength for myself, for the mother and mostly for the daughter whose life slipped back and forth
between life and death. The words from ACTS 17:28 came to mind, "In him we live and move and have our being." I thought, “This young woman's life, her being is in God. My being and this mother's being is in God, right now. It is all mercy and grace, just to be alive." And so I began to pray with each breath. On the inhale, MERCY (receiving). On the exhale, GRACE (giving it to everyone around me). Mercy …Grace. Receiving Mercy. Giving Grace. Over and over until I felt it was not air I breathed in and out but the merciful and gracious Spirit of God. I directed it toward the mother I stood with; toward the patient who we visited just before she was wheeled down the hall for tests; to the staff who hurried by with supplies and anxious looks. Mercy and Grace. Being and Strength. Life and Being....
I learned that this young woman had dedicated her life to helping those less fortunate than herself. Mercy and Grace. Mercy and Grace. I learned that the grandmother was a supporter of the Chaplaincy since almost its inception some 25 years ago. Mercy and Grace. Mercy and Grace.
Through a series of events, some might call coincidences, this woman received a very risky experimental treatment. The right people happened to walk in, the right equipment was available and ready to go, and the right diagnosis pursued and treated. Mercy and Grace. And the young woman ... her being came back into her body...was supported by caring and determined staff...and she spoke coherently to her mother the following morning.
The doctor directing this young woman’s care called it a "miracle." I agree. It was Mercy and Grace, every breath of it!