14 deaths. it's grusome i keep count. 14.
it's just a number but i remember all of them. not the names (although some) but the faces and the grief and the hope and support and love showed by the family members to one another.
recently another fear of mine came true. dude came in, left arm amputated at the shoulder. arm was in a red cooler marked "soda" and the guy was awake and talking. family came in, lots of family. i saw them bandage up the arm for shipping. i saw them take the muck and chords that used to be connected to something and bandage that up. i intially thought that i'd do what i do when i see this stuff on TV (discovery health and horror flicks are in the same catagory for me). namely i'd gag and puke and be an embarrasment to the staff. i wasn't. thinking about it, the spaghetti and sauce that some B movies in the 50s used to show gore is actually pretty accurate.
i'm amazed at how concern for someone else binds you to them. even if it's just a surface "gee i hope that guy is okay" is enough. it's about risking relationship even though this guy is suffering and missing an arm. our tendancy is to shy away from suffering and "leave the family to their grief." this is crap. go towards it, now more than ever is when the suffering person and their family needs others.
i didn't gag because i can tell it's a person... not an image or gimick. i feel the family's concern. i gather the things of the gentlemen because it's a concern he has that he can manage. i package them up the way he wants it and even have the family member of his choice sign off on it. things he can control while he waits for the chopper to come and his left arm is across the room and on ice. these things matter. they aren't theory although it helps to articulate it. it's best not to be all feeling during these situations either. balance between the two.
i love CPE. hard, challenging, promotes growth.
even when i come across people with some VERY crazy beliefs. on the same night a crazy dude was talking about David's sperm and some strange adoptionist heretical view of the trinity. i enjoyed spending time with that twisted-logic, maybe-demented old guy who's obsessed with sperm. there are worse things... like eugenics, neo-liberal globalization, genocide, and religious fundamentalism. all this guy worried about was whether he had "produced enough fruit to be adopted by the Father at judgement." fair enough. that's a concern i can live with. it's honest and true (despite the trappings of CRAZY!). as much as i wanted to attack his beliefs, i didn't. he was a lonely guy, scared to be in the hospital and in the twilight of his life. he was excited to talk religion with someone who represented the field and i'm happy that i could provide that presence.
this is making me a better pastor, husband, father, and human. i'm enjoying the program and feel i have authority to claim, a presence to provide, and a listening ear when ppl need it.