Golden Retrievers in the Nursing Home

Posted on: February 4, 2012

February 4th – I can tell now from one week to the next that we are inching forward in the healing process, be it ever so slowly.  Because of prayer I see we have been saved from drowning in grief, and we are at least pointed in the right direction even if we don’t progress much.  I still cry every day, but I know that is normal and will be going on for a while.  I am okay with that, and am paddling hard to keep my boat close to the safe shore of home so I don’t get caught back up in the rapids of life too fast.  I just posted two updates I sent to friends in January.  Thank you for praying for us.

January 21 – Friends,

It’s been a busy week with a revolving door of dear friends who’ve been waiting patiently in line to give us their love. I must have received some level of filling or healing during that 4 day weekend alone because I didn’t feel completely empty when each one left, like that horrible shaky-in-my-soul feeling of last week that told me I was running out of soul-oil. Don’t you love my pictures?

I am running low this week, yes, but not empty. There is now something left at the end of each visit and at the end of each day to do the next thing and not feel like I want to crawl into a ball and disappear or cry.

This is not at all like my former life, but it is so much better than last week that it hardly compares. To keep my little analogy going (because it feels like the only way I can measure my health right now), I am still in ICU. I still cry every day over big things (Kohls called needing a death certificate, Verizon called about his phone), I cry over little things (tossing a ball to Chance I remembered how much he loved to do that), and I cry over nothing at all (for 2 hours Thursday morning, for no reason I could think of, no special memory, no special thought, I just cried nonstop).

But, I can tell that the pain meds in my drip must have gotten adjusted to a lower level because I am starting to ‘wake up’ a little more and take in my surroundings rather than being utterly consumed with my own pain and recovery. Yesterday it dawned on me that many of the faces filing past my bed have been suffering a deep and personal blow themselves. I have only been able to focus on my own grief, and when I see the pain in their eyes I have only felt it for me or our family. Yesterday some of their pain began to come into focus. I woke up to the fact that many of the people who are reaching out to console us have been biting their lip to keep from crying in their personal sorrow so they can be of some use to us. Now I notice them grieving in corners of the room, hit in the gut over their own loss of a friend, a Christian brother, a cousin, or for some of my friends – one of their own kids of their heart. And then they compose themselves, walk over to my bed, hold my hand and smile as though their only pain is for me. It’s like I’m waking up and seeing not just me, not just our family, but an entire body in pain. It’s like we have all been in one train wreck, and everyone is in various stages of shock or trauma. And I have nothing to console anyone else with. I can’t even console myself. I can only be consoled and trust that the Lord who is holding me so tight will somehow be as real and powerful and consoling to His entire body.

Last night Patrick’s cousins, both in their early twenties, came for dinner and spent the evening. I assume they come to console us, but they actually seem like they love spending time here. And the night before two of Joel’s friends came for dinner, and it was the same thing – they seem like they just love being here.  Their visits made me remember the times the children and I took our golden retrievers into nursing homes. They were always a huge hit. No one noticed anything else once Max or Sam entered the room. Each dog had star status. You could tell that each resident was waiting for them to make their way to their table so they could have a turn petting them.

And here I sit, checked into my little ICU unit, still wounded and totally focused on processing my own personal pain every single day, when the door opens and in prance a couple of golden retrievers. And I look up from my broken heart and think, “Oh, look, aren’t they cute? And, look, I think they want to be petted! Wow, I think they like me, and I think they like me petting them and giving them treats!” I honestly can’t tell if these kids get anything out of their visits with us, but while they wander about in my room, and let me feed and pet them, they contribute to my healing.

I know some of you will worry that we are overdoing with so many visitors, and I am trying to be conscious of that. I’m not anxious to return to my old lifestyle, and I like retreating to peace and solace when the house empties. But I cannot think of one encounter last week we would have cancelled, each one was a special reconnection on our road to recovery. We are planning to circle the wagons and get more rest this weekend. Joel will spend a fun weekend with James and Amy, while Bill and I get W-2’s printed and mailed (quite the ordeal), and complete one order for a client. The rest of the time should be ours with just quiet.

I’ve been awake since 4:00, so I think I’ll turn out the light and go back to sleep now.

I love you all and appreciate you all very much.


4 Responses to "Golden Retrievers in the Nursing Home"

I love you Mardy – Even though you feel you are still in the ICU, God is saying “I See You” and am right here with you. I am continuing to pray for the healing process and your joy to return. Thank you again for sharing your feelings and emotions as you transition your year of firsts and the many years that follow. Hugs!!!

Oh Mardy,
You are so loved and it is a beautiful thing to see how your soul and spirit are faring through these painful days. My constant prayer for you is JOY in the midst of sorrow. May His Spirit so fill your spirit today, that you can not discern one from the other. Much love,

So… I am not so sure how Joel’s friends will react to being compared to Golden Retrievers but…the analogy reminds me that it helps our healing to care for others…when we can.

Don’t worry – you will not be moved to a regular room or discharged before you are ready. You know that the Lord’s timing is always perfect. Day by day, minute by minute. He is always faithful.

I think they’ll be glad she didn’t compare them to “stinky” Chance!
: )

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