I get the room number from the very patient woman at the desk near the east entrance of the hospital. She makes sure I know how to get to the correct elevator and I head up to the second floor. I knock on the door of the room and find Mary and Greg in a room full of family. Mary’s brother, Vachel, sits on the bed, grimly drinking the barium for the contrast diagnosis.
His wife sits in a chair by the window, her daughter sharing the seat. A granddaughter sits in another chair, her boyfriend on the floor next to her. Mary’s sister, Becky, finishes the circle.
I have never met Vachel before and have no idea whether his seeming thinness is due to the cancer or if this is simply his normal weight. I do know that look on his face, something deeper than the disgust of having to drink the stuff they have given him. I know, too, the expressions of family members when someone they love deeply is suffering.
None of us know what the future holds for him, for us. But we do know whom we trust and so we gather around his bed, join hands and pray together. We pray for peace, for strength, for healing. We pray for grace in this time facing the family. Mostly, we pray for Vachel to be held in the hand of God’s good grace.
I leave soon as still more family members come into the room. I leave as always, keenly aware of how little I can do, but grateful for the privilege of doing. Aware, too, of how powerful is the love of a family, especially one bonded in the faith of a Father who loves them.