Wednesday, February 3, 2010


(adj): closely acquainted, of or relating to a family, having intimate knowledge of.

the familiar section of the always-crowded parking garage that no one else seems to realize is convenient and sometimes has empty spaces--my section of the parking garage is still the same.

the rectangular-ish revolving door unlike any i have ever seen anywhere else, glass and confusing for newcomers, easy for familiars to navigate even with strollers and wheelchairs and iv poles.

a snippet of a cell phone conversation, "...and then another doctor came in and said they're not doing that test today; they're doing it tomorrow..." all too familiar.

beep-beeping of pulse oximeters, bonging of monitors registering leads that have lost their signal--the familiar discordant music that will always be in my head.

the people, so familiar.

and familiarity is the problem.

it's so easy to come back to. she could be there right now, and i could so easily slip back into the routine of paging in, scrubbing--that smell of hospital soap, so familiar, like the smell of a food that brings back a long-ago travel adventure or the lotion whose scent is distinctly your grandmother's--familiar is the problem. and the gift.

she could be there now, in this place that i hate, cared for by these people that i love but hate to see again...i hated this place, hated her life here, ours...and i wish she were back here, waiting for me to scrub and gown and get to her. always in a hurry to get to her. i hate this place for what it was and is...and for her not being in it.

too familiar.

it occurred to me during this year's birthday gift delivery to the intensive care nursery where eliza spent her first ten weeks fighting for her life that family is really what her life was--and is--about. from the nurses and doctors in that hateful place who became our and her daily companions and her loving caregivers in our stead to our parents and siblings who made so many sacrifices to help us and care for us over the course of her life to the school and church and neighbor friends who have loved us in incomprehensible ways to the many surrogate aunts and uncles and grandparents eliza and luke acquired--we have been surrounded and loved on and cared for by an incredible family these past four years.

and so even as i cringe at the familiar--the parking space, the monitors, the overheard conversations--i am thankful for it because i know it to be a gift. i recognize divine love even in the familiar hateful fallenness that sickness and suffering and hospitals and death represent. even as i cringe at the memories and the grief and the love lost with my eliza, i am thankful for the gift of so many new familiar things she gave me in her suffering.

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