Perspective in the ICU

An hour-and-a-half-long doctor appointment…

A bandage on the inside of my arm to remind me of the blood work I just had done…

An hour and 45 minutes away from my desk on a Monday…

These were the concerns I had at 11:30 a.m. today – until a cheerful man approached me.

He joked about whether or not it would be necessary to press the “up” arrow to call the elevator again after I did. And he complimented me on my outfit. His joy made me think:

“Maybe he’s a new grandfather.”

“Or maybe he just got some good news.”

I asked him how his day was going. He shared that his son was in the ICU after having sustained serious injuries from a car accident.

I’m always amazed by God’s good timing with giving me a little perspective.

Note: For the sake of confidentiality, I’m going to call the gentleman “Mr. Dad” and his son “Son.”

In the short elevator ride, I expressed my condolences and asked how Son was doing. Mr. Dad immediately asked me if I’d like to meet Son.

“I’d be honored,” I said.

He first led me into the floor’s commons room, where I was greeted by two beautiful blonde women – the boy’s girlfriend on the left and mother sitting next to her on the right – and an adorable yellow labrador service dog. In the midst of all they’re going through, they even offered me some water and freshly picked strawberries. This family’s positivity and strength was truly inspiring.

An air mattress in the corner and a supply of food that they could make in the kitchenette caught my eye. By the looks of it, they had been there for a while – two weeks to be precise.

Mr. Dad took me back to meet Son. I successfully fought back the tears after having seen this sweet boy – someone’s boyfriend, brother and son – hooked up and holding on. He showed me his school photo. Handsome boy. Very quickly, I learned a lot about Son. He’s a good student, skilled athlete, a giver and a fighter.

I could feel Mr. Dad’s love, pride and hope as he talked about Son and shared stories. They reminded me of my husband and his father.

When it came time to leave, I put my right hand on Son’s left, looked into his eyes and said to him:

“You’re in good hands here. Everything’s going to be OK.”

He nodded ever so slightly, signaling that he received my remarks.

I said it, because I firmly believe it.

As Mr. Dad and I walked out of the ICU, he shared about his current routine. He wakes up very early to go the YMCA, because, “I need to stay strong for [Son].” Then he’s back at the hospital in time for the doctors to cut off the pain medication at 6 a.m. in order to check responsiveness.

Mr. Dad led me back into the commons area, where I continued to visit with the family. I looked around at the room again and saw a team of amazing people rallying around this incredible boy.

But my eyes kept shooting back to the air mattress and food, because it represented two very special things: sacrifice and unconditional love.

What began as a typical elevator ride turned out to be the most touching experience in my career to date. I drove home from work today in silence, free from distractions. Instead, I reflected on how necessary it can be to put others’ concerns and needs ahead of my own. I got some perspective on my own challenges, as well as a restored sense of gratefulness.

I’m married to a man who would camp out in a waiting room and sleep on an air mattress for our future family and me and hold our hands through pain.

If you feel moved to do so, please donate to the family’s Go Fund Me page.


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