Updated: Dec 19, 2017
OCTOBER 27, 2014
How do you stay in the present moment when the present moment sucks? There’s an idea that grace lies in the present moment. Stay focused on today, not the past or the future.
Chris is lying in a fetal position in a hospital bed. Machines are clicking and blinking. His eyes are open but he’s really not there. He is trying to escape from the pain and nausea of the previous twenty chemos. His face is gray almost white with a strained, vacant expression. The air in the room is heavy and smells of disinfectant. There is no oxygen; it’s hard to breath. I’m curled up with my knees to my chest on a hard, windowsill seat. I fold a yoga mat underneath me for a little reprieve. The architect clearly didn’t understand that caregivers sit on this bench for 8-10 hours a day. My ass is aching! The big, reclining chair is only for the patient; it’s sterile. Chris has no immune system.
I jump up every now and then to grab the pink, plastic c shaped trough and shove it under his chin as he vomits. God, I can stand anything but vomit. I’m holding back my own impulse to heave at the sight and smell of it. I wipe his chin and offer a sip of water and a cracker. It’s so frustrating that the doctors can’t keep his nausea under control. Everyday I watch him disappear a little more. Chris is tough and stoic. But five days of non-stop vomiting has brought him to his knees. It takes every last ounce of his strength to hoist up a little bit and extend his shaking arm out to me. I see it from across the room but I’m not allowed to touch him. Screw it, I get up and hold his hand with my plastic glove covered one. Chris squeezes hard and holds on tight with everything he’s got. I am his lifeline. I squeeze back. You've got this; we've got this. He collapses back onto the bed and tries to sleep.
I return to my perch emotionally drained. This is not the present moment I want. I take a few deep breaths as my eyes well up. I'm struggling to find my center. I can't fall apart; I don't have the luxury. Breathe and search for grace. Then suddenly it strikes me. There is a quiet, strength of love in this room. I inhale and wrap it around me. I guess I can stay here for a little while.