“Good morning. How are you feeling today?”
I’d been in a dead calm of a sleep, finally. But this was the hospital. Hospitals aren’t for sleeping.
“Oh gosh, I’ve been so sick to my stomach, but God is good…He always works things out.”
“Yes, like maybe I was supposed to meet you today.”
He was dressed in bright red scrubs, ready to tie things up and draw my precious blood.
“Yes, maybe so!” I offered my right arm.
“Oh, good veins!”
“Yeah, that’s what they all say.”
It didn’t hurt as badly as the first time. Some are better at the craft than others.
“Shannon, it’s going to be alright. I’ll pray for you.”
“Oh, that would be so great. Thank you!” I was astonished, but in a good way.
“Do you have kids?”
“Yes, I have two daughters, 11 and 15. They’re both adopted.”
He finished the draw and walked around the front of the bed to the other side where the light wasn’t as good. It was still dark outside. I thought it might be about 3 am, but without my glasses I couldn’t read the wall clock.
“How about you? Do you have kids?”
He slowed down as if hesitant to answer. I waited.
“Well, yes. I do.”
He’s split from his wife.
“I’m no longer with them though. I went through a divorce.”
“Oh, yes. That can get tricky. Especially around the holidays…”
“I just try to go along with the plan. To not be a bother…”
He looked up. Even with fuzzy vision I knew he was sad. He quickly packed up his kit and turned toward the door.
“Well, you have a good day, okay?”
“Oh, okay. You too! I’ll pray for you too!”
He disappeared down the hall. I turned the lights back off, grabbed my glasses and my phone, and turned it on to see what time it was. 3:42 am. I accidentally hit the photo app and a few recent pictures of the girls popped up on the screen.
Oh, so sweet. I wonder…I should have shown him my girls. Or maybe not.
I don’t know why I knew his situation was fresh. I thought he might still be in shock, and not sure how to navigate his new circumstances. I could tell he missed his kids, but there was something blocking him. Was it a feeling of failure or inadequacy? Was he beaten down by the situation and the people involved? Why did he “get small” when I asked him if he had kids?
And why did he say that maybe we were meant to meet today? It jolted me a little when he said it, but then why not? God is always engineering the moments of a day, so why not a 3-minute encounter with a young lab tech?
I would’ve fallen back to sleep, but my mind was busy writing a story about my cast of caregivers. Almost every nurse, vital signs tech, floor assistant, blood-drawing lab tech, and housekeeping person who’d visited my room so far had shared their story. Maybe there was something written on my forehead, like “Tell me what’s on your heart! I’m a captive patient!”
Eventually the grogginess returned and I began to fall.
The voice sounded familiar. I looked up and out the door. The young lab tech was standing in the hall, looking into my room.
“Oh, hi,” I said.
Isn’t that funny? I was thinking of calling him back to look at the pictures of my girls.
“You have a good day, okay?”
“Yes, thank you so much. You too! And I’ll be praying for you.”
He disappeared from the doorway.
And the rest of the morning was absolutely quiet.