Code blues are always a thing, when you are a chaplain.
So are room visits, requests for scriptures, hallway prayers, and ministering to the grieving nurses who really gave everything to care for a patient who didn’t make it.
Sometimes I hold brand new babies, and sometimes they are the size of my hand, and sometimes they don’t live to even see lunchtime.
Sometimes grownups die when they are too young to pass away yet, and sometimes four or five generations gather to say goodbye to an ancient patriarch or matriarch who gave them all life.
Sometimes people just want prayer before a surgery they are anxious about, or someone to talk to in the night, or a friend to show them where the cafeteria is.
The crowded halls busy in the mornings grow quiet and still in the late night, and it is as if I walk alone as do my rounds to check on 500 patients.
Other times the nights are busy, with deaths on every corner, consultation rooms flood with tears, and lonely ICU beds where I am the only one who has come to sing them to their final sleep.
Sometimes I get one page after another without a chance to go to the bathroom or grab something to eat or sit down for a moment, and sometimes people pass away next door to each other as if they were old lady neighbors who planned it that way.
There are worship services to prepare, and a list of familiar names to pray for as I kneel beneath the stained glass windows. Other days I am on the other side of the windows, down at the front of the hospital, getting to pray in a ceremony at the flag poles to honor an organ donor.
The same family may request me every day they are in the hospital, and other days I return to a room to visit a patient and they have already left with me forgotten in the excitement of going home.
It feels a lot like fostering, on those days.
I think of this as I drive home, and then feel my children run to me, and realize they are mine.
We are settled, our new family, and the children are happy, and I could almost cry with relief. I wasn’t sure we would ever make it to this day, and we may still have days to live ahead of us, but we are family. We walk to the park and play, walk home for some rice and vegetables, and then tuck in little ones with prayers and “just one more” drinks of water. We make our lunches for tomorrow, clean the kitchen, lay out the children’s clothes for tomorrow, and clean up for bed. We read our couple’s scriptures, pray together, and journal.
My husband says to me, “you can go blog for a while if you want, because I need to call Gene Autry’s publishers again.”
Of course he does.
He’s been writing again, finally, with time at home while I play chaplain and the children are in school. This is our season of rest, both of us delighted with our work, both of us glad for work, after our season of keep-the-baby-alive, which followed keep-Emily-alive-from-cancer, which came after why-did-we-sign-up-for-fostering, which came after the-whole-dead-mom-thing.
Our days are calm, and sweet, and good, with the work that is part of living, but the rest and river walks that are a part of healing, a part of recovering, a part of sealing us together after the intense years we just endured. There is softening, and there is tenderness, and there is peace, and it is good.
It is good for us.
And we are happy.
It is a relief to me, to see them happy, and I love that it comes in this season of our tiny-house when we are living so simply.
Life still has its own normal challenges, between toddler temper tantrums and preschool snot rockets and second grade math drama, and we are still busy. I go next week to New Orleans to present about the book, and then I go to Utah after that for chaplaincy training for this year. But it’s a different kind of busy, and it’s not crisis-busy, and that feels good.
Know what else feels good? Pajamas at the end of a day of honest work, sitting down to rest after you really tried hard with the children, and ending the day with a song at bedtime instead of yelling. It’s a thing, going to bed with everyone smiling. Just like that.