When my sister called, I had my shoes laced up before she finished breaking the news. I knew my dad was in the hospital. The doctor came out to talk to her so she said she'd call me back but I was running out the door, keys in hand by the time I pushed "end."
I found the ICU waiting room by the voices in the hallways. My Utah sisters, my brother and my mom were already there. A nurse entered the room to let us know he was settled into his room, hooked up to all the necessary equipment and we could visit him two at a time. Eventually, we kicked out my brother and we three sisters entered the unit. At the end of a hall stood a young woman, just outside of a room. She was pacing in circles and sobbing into her cell phone. My sisters and I looked at each other. We have each other. Couldn't we spare one of us to comfort her?
Once in my dad's room, we talked to him, fussed over him and were eventually kicked out due to the hour. The sobbing woman was gone but I wondered what I could have done to help her. Could I have given her comfort? I gave a quick prayer from my heart for her and apologized to my Heavenly Father for not helping her.
But this is her Gethsemane, He seemed to tell me. And I saw a transformation.
I saw, for a moment, how she had to be alone at this time. She and God were communicating. To enter her garden was to enter holy grounds. I was struck by the sacred nature of what was happening to her. Her anguish was palpable but He was already there.
Stay close but don't enter the garden and pray with me. Don't fall asleep. I need strength. I need to do this alone.
As the nurses passed this woman, they slowed to a near stop, placing a hand on her shoulder, giving a hug but continuing on, catching her eye and holding her gaze.
You are not alone.
Whatever was happening to her was tragic and heartbreaking. But it was hers alone. It was a sacred experience that I could not enter. We could pray for her. The nurses could stay with her outside the garden and watch, but He was rebuilding her in His way.
Rarely do we see such a profound moment. Most of the time it seems to be appropriate to step in and comfort or feed. Casseroles have their place and serve a purpose but it mostly helps the one in service feel helpful. I'll do it again in the future but ultimately, the gesture is for my benefit rather than theirs.
That dark night in the hospital, I knew I had no place in the stranger's garden. I knew that the true Healer was already at work.
And she could heal only through Him. And she will.