Call Upon Me (part two)

In the midst of a crisis—everything comes into perspective.

And the things of the world no longer matter.

My sister wrote this for me on a plaque in July of 1995. The month my baby girl was born. And the month I drove home from the hospital without her. Her NICU stay had just begun.

I remember driving through the square in Morristown, NJ, watching the shoppers scurry about. I remember thinking, “How can they not stop? How can they not care that my child is struggling to live? That I am in so much pain? It all seemed cold. Distant. And though I had loved ones around me, I felt very much alone.

I stayed with my mom those first few weeks. I couldn’t face the apartment. The empty crib. The clothing laid out and ready. I needed time to heal.

If you’ve ever experienced life in the NICU, you know it is another world. Surreal. A roller coaster, up and down, carrying you along through clouds of hope and devastation.

All you can do is take another step. Another breath. And wait.

Before I was released from the hospital, the doctors fought to regulate my blood pressure. It remained dangerously high after the pre-eclampsia. And it made them nervous. I saw it on their faces every time they checked and rechecked the numbers. A furrowed brow. Deep lines. Hard tapping pencil on clipboard. Then they would check my pressure by hand because maybe the instruments were wrong. But they weren’t.

The anxiety spilled out in frustration with the nurse’s comments. “Just roll onto your left side and stay there until I come back. You hear?” As if I would rebel. Or that it was entirely my fault my blood pressure would not come down. She stormed out behind the flutter of white coats.

I said that verse over and over again. The one Peter made me memorize when I first got sick. The one I had pulled from the scripture pack in our apartment only two days before. The day Meagan was born. The day everything changed.

Call upon me in the day of trouble. I will deliver you. And you will glorify Me (Psalm 50:15).

I rolled onto my left side and waited.

The next part is real. As real as the first. I can only give witness. That is my job. Whether or not you believe it, that is His.

I lay on my left side. Waiting.

A fragrant smell wafted into the room. I thought it must have come from the vents. Food, maybe? Really good food. Or something else. Something comforting. But I could not put my finger on it. Then a shadow. An arm? Possibly. It fell on me. First on my toes. Then it traveled to my head and back. And then it was gone. Just like that. I saw no one. Just the shadow. As though the sun had traveled east to west and back again. All in one breath. One timely breath.

The nurse returned. She positioned me on my back and took my blood pressure. Of course, you are ahead of me. You already know the answer. It was normal. Perfectly normal. She nearly jumped for joy. Ten minutes on my side? Was that it? Was that all it took?

I wanted to tell her. She needed to know about the shadow. About God’s unrelenting love and grace. About how he watches over his kids even when we think surely we must be alone. I needed to tell her because this might be the only time she would hear.

“This is amazing!” she said.

“I know,” I said.

That was all. And she danced from the room.

I had failed Him.

Call upon Me in the day of trouble. I will deliver you. And you will glorify Me.  

But I didn’t give Him the glory. I didn’t. I failed Him. He had done His part. I had failed mine. I had kept silent.

The next day, I left the hospital. My arms empty. My little one would stay… for awhile. How long? I had no idea. Days? Weeks? Months. Six months, maybe, before we would be done. Who would have thought?

I sat at my mom’s table. In the kitchen. With nothing left to give. Spent. Hurting. Empty. When I looked up, I noticed she had a similar pack of scripture cards on her table as I had had on mine. I toyed with the case in my fingers. Then opened it. I drew out a random card from the center. I read:

Call upon Me in the day of trouble. I will deliver you. And you will glorify Me.

* * *

Before Jesus was crucified on the cross, He prayed to the Father:

The glory which You have given Me I have given to them … so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me… O righteous Father, although the world has not known You, yet I have known You ...  and I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them. (John 17:22-26)

Maybe the glory is not mine to give.

Maybe the glory is not in the doing.

Maybe the glory is in the knowing