Robin Hood had a touch of food poisoning last week.
While I would never wish anyone the experience of watching a loved one go through that, I will say that it taught me some valuable lessons.
I know that love means thinking of others, and realizing that their needs equal and sometimes trump your own. But last weekend really hammered that home. And the kicker was that I didn’t mind. At all. There was no resentment, no feeling that my time was being infringed upon. I didn’t care that I was up in the middle of the night, Googling symptoms that I shan’t describe. I didn’t care that I used one of my own sick days to care for someone else (hello, I’m not going to work when my boyfriend has been stationed in the bathroom for hours). I didn’t care that I skipped my run that day. Frankly, watching Robin Hood finally sleeping soundly, and then later, actually eating again, brought me peace of mind that could rival any post-run glow.
I realized that I am truly invested in someone other than myself, and it felt nice.
Another thing I learned was humility. No one has all the answers or all the healing powers or all the anything. I helped Robin Hood as best I could, but there was little I could do other than make sure he was comfortable and somewhat hydrated. I camped out in the hallway by the bathroom so I could at least be nearby, and while the floor was surprisingly cozy, it was still frustrating. I didn’t know what to do – drag him to the emergency room? Force water down his throat? Continue doing Internet research and conclude that he has some sort of awful Ebola/E. coli hybrid? I know Googling symptoms is a terrible idea, but I’m not my most rational self at 3:00 am.
Or…wait and hope for the best?
Well, just after I had resolved to drive him to a doctor as soon as he was able to stand, he fell asleep. And slept. And slept.
Then another lesson emerged: patience. And right on its heels, its cousin: faith. After Robin Hood fell asleep, so did I. When I woke up and confirmed that he was still sleeping, I padded to the kitchen. I fixed myself breakfast, and then, sitting at the table, pondered what to do next. I figured, why not revert to routine? I got my devotional books, did that day’s readings, and prayed. I prayed for Robin Hood to get better, and prayed for guidance for myself.
I don’t know if it was the food or the prayer – probably both – but the next time I peered in at my patient, it dawned on me that the best thing to do was to take a deep breath, relax, and let him get the rest he needed.
That night, as I watched him munch toast and sip Gatorade, I thought about the lessons I was learning. I said a quiet prayer of thanks for them. But I suspect that when it comes to realizing the power of prayer, the power of the human body, and the power that we all have to be there for loved ones when they need us…I haven’t even scratched the surface.