“I always knew it. This has confirmed what I have felt all along. My son is special. He is here for a reason. God will not let him leave his work incomplete.” The elegantly dressed lady epitomized poise and courage.
I listened in silence. There is little one can say in such a situation. Her twenty-three year old son was lying passively in the I.C.U. His bike accident two months back had left him comatose. Nobody dared to speak about it openly, but there had been murmurs of “alcoholic”, “irresponsible” and “no hope” amongst the visitors. The mother appeared to have heard none of all this. She remained positive and stoic. During the brief visitations we were permitted, I would hear her whisper encouragement to the passive boy. There was no sign that he could hear her, but she never gave up.
Later that night, a loud wailing pierced the eerie silence of the ICU.. The tension was acute. Who had received the fatal news now? But that was not the case. This was another mother. Another desperate, exhausted soul who cried out in sheer misery.
“Why? Why?” she sobbed as she was led to a chair by a nurse. Everyone’s eyes had turned to her. Another visitor gently reached out to pat her hand and console her. “Don’t worry. He will be alright.” That worsened her cries. “No! Don’t say that! Enough! Enough! Please let him die now. I cannot take this anymore.” There were a couple of startled gasps. Loud enough to reach her. They seemed to ignite the anger raging in her. “I shock you, do I? What do you know? What do you know about how much we suffer every single day! For the last three years. Every day a battle to be fought. Every breath a struggle. You can sit there and judge me. But if you only knew! If you had only an ounce of compassion in you, you would join my pleas. Let him die. Let him die now!”
The pain in her voice seared every listener in the room. No-one wanted to know more details. No-one wanted to answer the questions that arose in their mind. About themselves, their patients, the lady, her son. None of them. For the first time in months, a crack appeared in the controlled veneer of the poised lady. She grew white and one could see the churning within her. Disgust, pity, anger, judgement – they all left a visible trace as the distasteful frown. But as she continued to watch the helpless tears flow, she began to change.
She watched transfixed. One mother seeing another. One woman recognizing another. One soul understanding another. Just one tear appeared at the corner of her eye. She did not wipe it away. Moving slowly, she went across to sit beside the weeping lady. Sensing her intensity, the second lady grew silent. In one long look they exchanged stories of a lifetime.
Steeling the tremor in her voice, the first held both hands out and said, “Come, let us pray. I have prayed for my son to live and you – for your son to die. But God has been trying to take away mine and keep yours alive. Perhaps we are not hearing the answer he has for us. Let us change our prayers today. Let us pray for grace. Let us pray for the strength to trust. For once – let us pray for us.”