It’s a strange thing to be in the midst of a panicked room while feeling an inner stillness. I certainly wonder at times if the inner stillness I experienced in those moments my body profusely poured out it’s lifeblood for the second time in less than 24 hours was a result of a drug-infused semi-conscioussness. Though my thinking brain attempts to dominate the internal dialogue and beckon me to surrender to this probability, there is a stronger more intuitive sense, however, that the inner stillness was reflective of something far more sacred. Perhaps it was the response of my soul as I waded through the waters of a spiritual realm more accessible as my very life hung in the balance.
It was only minutes before the panic struck that I became aware of the likelihood that something wasn’t right. After sensing a warm gush of fluid releasing from the life-giving canal of my body, I instinctually knew that I needed assistance. But how do you ask for help when your body has been drug-forced to cooperate with a ventilator leaving you unable to awaken enough to speak or even open your eyes? I knew my mother was still keeping watch behind me, but imagined she had fallen asleep once she began to believe that her daughter would actually survive the trauma of that 3rd day of January. I distinctively recall thinking to myself, “Well…Shauna, if you can’t communicate with words or movement of some sort, you’re going to have to use your mind to beckon someone to check on you.” And that’s exactly what I began doing. I was trying to “will” someone over to my side. It was only a matter of minutes before a nurse re-entered my room and decided to lift up the blankets covering the crisis my body was experiencing. Perhaps it was coincidence, but what if it wasn’t? What if my spirit really did beckon her to come to my aide? A year and a half later, I still wrestle with this sequence of events and the invitation to put my rational self to rest long enough to embrace the beauty and power of this spiritual possibility.
It was that particular nurse’s discovery of my condition that sounded off multiple alarms. Without being able to process visually what was happening all around me, I focused upon sound to guide my thoughts. The sound of beeping machines, the frenetic shuffling of medical personnel, and the panicked words of my mother filled the space all around me. The sounds emerging from my mother were what confirmed my earlier suspicion that something wasn’t right. After over two decades of working in the medical field, my mother was more often than not the one who remained grounded in crisis. She had learned how to navigate through the typical fight, flight or freeze response with grace in most traumatic situations. But in the late evening hours of that horrific day, I heard my mother come undone. As the doctors and nurses frantically unplugged me from all of the machines that were monitoring my pour beat up body, I heard my mother’s voice cracking as she called to tell Brian he needed to come quickly before they whisked me away for another emergency surgery.
Just before they ushered my hospital bed out of the room, my mother leaned in and tearfully urged me to fight like I’ve never fought before. “Don’t give up. Do not leave us,” were her last words for me. Her directive was the final indication of just how terrified she was at the knowledge of my condition. The awareness of the danger I was facing increased in those moments and I awaited the wave of fear I thought was inevitable. But it never came. Instead, I felt a wave of focused calm and reflection overtake the internal landscape of my mind as I pondered the possibility of my own end. I surveyed the terrain of my life as the faces of those I’ve been blessed with knowing appeared before me. Prior to even formulating a single thought, I simply felt compelled to trust. I somehow knew at the core of my being that all would be well with or without me. At that realization, I opened my eyes as my bed was being rolled beneath the doorway of the ICU room only to spot the image of a crucifix hanging directly above my head. With the same focused calm, I wondered if praying was required in moments such as these.
God, I’m not certain that you are real, but I certainly hope you are. I’m not even sure of what I need in these moments…Should I ask for Jesus to be with me as my body suffers such pain or to plead on behalf of my life? Should I ask for God the Father to protect me or provide care for my family in my absence? Or might it be possible for Mother God to hold me close and comfort my soul in the here and now? I guess I just need all that YOU are to be here right now.
I am here. That is what I knew, heard, felt. Love is here, was here, will always be here. It is enough. And it really was enough – enough to know that I was not alone and that those I loved would never be alone no matter what happened. At that moment of acceptance, Brian showed up just in time. He leaned down and whispered into my ear, “Just know that I love you.” It was more than enough.