Reader Reactions & Anecdotes

 

25 October 2008

Thoughts While Awaiting Surgery

The air is clear and bright and my beloved St. Augustine basks in the glow of a cool October sun. I can see great sweeps of it from my window in the tower of Flagler Hospital, and I realize that I’m confronting, in a way, a panorama of my 87 years on this earth, and, perhaps, the fadeout and segue into the next great act.

Doctors, mysterious as ever, hint of a cancerous growth somewhere in my innards. They trundle me all over the hospital, sticking me with needles and adhesive while their machines whirr and click and bleat. Tomorrow, they tell me, they’ll know more. After the surgery. My thoughts, wandering, go to all of you, some who are close and dear, and the others I’ve never met but feel deeply about, because their loyal readership reveals our underlying kinship. From the roaring beehive of Manhattan to the quiet lanes of Pontypool, England, from the thousands in Jacksonville, Florida, to the single readers in the Australian Outback, there’s a direct linking of the physical cosmos and the soul, thanks to the incredible reach of the internet. And I don’t want to embark on today’s new adventure without having told you — and you, you, and you — how much I appreciate having had you in my life.

At my age, there’s no such thing as minor surgery, so that puts me on a standby basis for the great trip of trips — the passage to another level of existence. Like some of you, I was once filled with a robust kind of arrogance that says, this is all there is. But now, I share with you this very personal discovery: I’ve been where you are, and I find that I have required 87 years to learn how wrong I was. There is something more.

Example: my mop lady, who came through at midnight, the pain and lostness of a lifetime on her face. Her eyes were downcast and averted. She wouldn’t even glance at me, because she was so obviously aware of the terrible damage that had been done to her face. It looked as if someone had taken a hatchet to her. Her nose had obviously been broken, and her lips were split like a double harelip. She never smiled; her mouth was a graph line of misery. Then and there, I said silently, God, fill her heart and lift her up. As she went out the door, she looked at me and the graph line became a little smile. There could, in my mind, be no other explanation than my prayer — there couldn’t have been; she never even looked at me, until she turned at the door and smiled. For me, alone with my own fears and misery, it was my proof there is Somebody listening.

Such examples are around us every moment of our lives, but for me, I’ve found that it takes a heap of living to (1) recognize them, and (2) to act on them. And the poor little mop lady was a congealing of them all. In one moment, she showed me that there is a wonderful, caring higher power, whom I choose to call God; and God cares about all of us — from my lonely, tiny, frightened adopted alley cat who begs for food at my door, to me, the king of jerks. And when we ask the Higher Power for help — honestly, openly, no baloney — help shows up, perhaps not in the way we expect, but it always shows up, on the dime, in the way we need it — in the way that’s best for us.

Today, with the help of the little mop lady, I see it clearly, after eight decades in the greatest classroom of them all.

Jack

[End note from Jonni: at this writing, our intrepid leader, having survived two operations in three days, is resting fitfully but about as well as can be expected. He is, of course, very tired and in quite a bit of pain. Final test results are not yet in, so it’s just a matter of “wait and see.” The family and hospital have requested that there be no phone calls or visits. But I will be printing out all his e-mails and taking them to him at the hospital. He sends all his readers his love and thanks for your wishes and prayers. Don’t write him off yet, folks. Not yet.]

Copyright © 2008 by Jack D. Hunter.  All rights reserved.  No part of this document may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission from the author.

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