There are so many threads in this particular tapestry piece that I’m not sure where to begin. I guess I’ll pick the ones that stand out the most.
I’ll start with where I went today. For another medical procedure, a presurgery before a colonoscopy. Scheduling this procedure hasn’t been easy. Finding room in my calendar, aligning my calendar with that of my friend who was to drive me, filling out all of the paperwork, looking up information, talking to disinterested people on the phone to get it set up, and then two phone calls to get preregistered. It was all an irritation. Yes, probably somewhat connected with the procedure, but something beyond that, too. Something that just didn’t feel right. I was concerned about anesthesia and actually dreamed about it, that it didn’t feel right, that I fought it off. I’ve had three procedures in the last year that have involved anesthesia, but that was never a concern. Until now.
Just before I left to go to this hospital for the presurgery, a new hospital to me, one I’ve never been to before, I saw a post on Facebook from a former student asking for prayers for her father who had passed out and had been rushed to a hospital, the one I was about to go to. She I and don’t interact often on Facebook, but I usually respond to prayer requests, and I did this time. I said a couple of prayers for her dad and headed out the door.
I didn’t like what I found at the hospital. The sidewalk at the front hadn’t been swept in a while, the glass in the front doors and around them was smudged, the waiting room area didn’t feel clean. A fly buzzed by when I was registering.
Then they sent me to the main waiting room where I opened email on my phone to read about my sister’s dream this morning. The floor of that room wasn’t clean, either, and the glass on the doors had smudges. Another fly buzzed by. So I was wondering if I really wanted to have a medical procedure there. Even just blood drawn. No other medical place I’ve been (and I’ve been to lots in the last year) has been dirty at all – and certainly nothing like this.
I read my sister’s dream. It’s about us being in my car. She’s driving. It’s difficult to steer, and the road is no longer pavement. We’re in chopped-off corn rows going right then trying to get behind other cars, then going left, too far, and a concrete mixer truck is coming toward us.
I’ll let my sister tell the next part (in her notes that she shared with me): “[I] steer back right but can’t go far enough, surely will collide with truck, we are headed right for it and almost on it. But no impact – suddenly quiet and no other cars or scenery, just us in the car. What happened? Did we hit? But there is light, bright light, coming in the windshield, we are headed toward it. Don’t you feel the warmth from it on your face? Don’t you think this is the after-life light we have heard about? Now at a stop light – people pouring by in front of us, left to right in front of the car, as if a factory shift was just released. Isn’t that [someone I know]? No. Someone else I know? No. Faces I almost know, but not quite. Now we are in a waiting room like at a Drs office. Asking the receptionist and other woman working – what’s it like here in this world? is it like back in the prior world? are we really here or can we go back? One woman says: “It’s basically the same here – soccer games, dinner with family –just all different.” Other woman says: “But you still have time to decide, you can go back.” Krista is very excited! I think probably I want to stay here! Karla (my sister) is concerned – what about Ken (her husband)? I will miss him, he will miss me. I think I may want to go back.”
And now I’ll summarize the rest. We’re in an apartment with her husband, discussing whether to stay. The doorbell rings. It’s our mother (who died several years ago). We didn’t want her to know yet, but here she is. Karla gives her a big hug.
I read this and replied to her, “Wow. Just wow.” It’s going to take me some time to process this dream. And I looked around at the not-really-clean lobby. I thought to myself that I should cancel the colonscopy next week because I don’t want to have a procedure in a place that doesn’t feel clean. Then I thought, “If I’m going to cancel, then why have to pay for bloodwork and other stuff today?”
I’d taken a Sue Monk Kidd book with me. It’s titled When the Heart Waits: Spiritual Direction for Life’s Sacred Questions. It spoke to me as I was leaving home. I haven’t started it yet. So I thought, “I’ll open it up and see if there’s a message.” I opened to a chapter in which she is discussing the Little Red Hen story. The hen does everything herself. No one helps. She doesn’t take care of herself and becomes a victim. And resents everyone. “The Little Red Hen would have us believe that we should do our duty with silent contentment at the expense of ourselves.” I ask myself, “What does that say to me now?”
My answer is: Sue Monk Kidd is saying that the Little Red Hen always does her duty, even if it’s not best for her. So if I apply that to myself now, my Little Red Hen self would just have presurgery and a colonoscopy in a place that feels dirty because she’s already set it up and people have planned it . . . and are waiting for her right now. She doesn’t make waves. But that’s not right for me now – this day, this time. I don’t want to have a medical procedure in a place that feels dirty.
So I got up and went back to the registration desk and said, “I’m not going to have this procedure.” The girl asked my last name, and I showed her my hospital info bracelet and said, “You can just cut this off and get my name from that.” I wasn’t angry or irritated, just matter-of-fact. She cut if off and looked at me and said, “May I ask why?” I said, “It’s not clean here.” She just looked at me. And I left.
And now for the amazing part. I walked to the door I came in, and at the doorway I heard someone say, “Ms. Seckinger, Daddy didn’t make it.” I looked see who had said that to me, and it was a former student. The very one who asked for prayers on Facebook right before I had left home. I realized that her father had just died.
I put my arms around her. We hugged a long time, and I said into her ear, “I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry.” And I kept hugging her. Just before we let go, I said, “I wish him a good transition to the other side. He’s going to be very happy there. But it’s going to be very hard for you.” And I could see my daddy there on the other side, welcoming her daddy, helping him with his transition.
I told her boyfriend and family that I was so sorry. And I went to my car and sat and cried for a while.
If I hadn’t decided not to have the bloodwork and to cancel my colonoscopy, I wouldn’t have been there right at that time.
I know I was supposed to be there.
The veil is thin. Between the other side and here, it’s not far. The edge of a leaf. The width of a silk thread. The beat of a heart.
And we’re all connected. From both sides.