Pants and peace


Two days ago I was sitting in a local emergency room. My elderly (don't tell her I called her that) aunt had been staying with me for a couple of days. She's very independent, but she'd been sick and since a heart condition can complicate other things, we thought it best she and I have a weekend sleepover. Plus, in so doing, her doc thought we had a shot at her heart's desire, which was to stay out of the hospital.

But it wasn't meant to be. Infection and edema began a war with each other and that is not a war laymen can win even with the best of intentions in a good neighborhood.

So late on Saturday night, she finally relented and off to the hospital we went. I felt so bad for her. Low sodium level, low blood pressure, infection, fluid buildup - all equal slow heart. Even some failure. As the hours crossed from Saturday night into Sunday morning, test after test was run. Docs were consulted, machines hooked up.

Once you've experienced loss, and really, who hasn't, these are the sorts of things that tangle your nerve endings. No matter how far you've come or how good your grief grip is, you can't help but recognize the gravity of the situation - and at least one possible outcome that, frankly, just won't do. But while I was trying to hide those thoughts under the fluorescent lighting that exposes all fears in an examining room, my sick patient motioned for me to lean in closer.

She looked at me and said, "Hanging on the back of my bedroom closet door is a brand new pair of black pants. The tag is still on them and the ticket is in the pocket. If something happens to me, take those pants back to Dillard's and get you something." Her husband, Charles's uncle, died 14 years ago and she has said a lot of funny things as we've spent more time together over the years. I'm not supposed to repeat most of them, and if she could I'd probably get gag ruled out of telling you this one. But anybody around us could have heard me just bust that night. There cannot be a better word. I busted out laughing. Laughing hard enough to cry, right in the middle of Room 7 in the ER, I finally managed to say, "I just love you!"

Now I don't think she's going to die. Not this time (please not this time). And of course, she doesn't want to die. But her faith is so strong that the truth is, she is not afraid of death. She's in such a good place spiritually that her worst fear is wasting a perfectly good pair of pants. God has got to be smiling.


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