I’m watching him watch Mr Tumble as the thick red liquid drips slowly from a bag into an IV line, and from there into the port in his chest. I’m occasionally interacting with the nurses who come into the room to check his temperature, pulse and blood pressure. I’m chatting with friends who pass by in the hall. And I’m thinking about the death of self-reliance.
It really is true that “no man is an island”, and yet how often do we--do I--internalise and reflect on that fact, allowing space to be deeply grateful for the help that we receive, whether or not we are aware of it, that enables us to live?
I'm aware that this has been true from the very beginning of Adam’s life—he wouldn’t be here if a midwife hadn’t helped us to deliver him onto our dark green velvet couch in Germany. He certainly wouldn’t be alive if it weren’t for doctors, nurses, hospitals and lots and lots of medicines and machines. And he wouldn’t be who he is, and WE wouldn’t be who WE are, without so many others: therapists who patiently teach us how to overcome and work with the aversions and delays resulting from that well-known extra chromosome, researchers who have given years of their lives to perfecting chemotherapy regimens, friends who have offered help at many necessary (and unnecessary) moments, family who have flown over to stay with us for weeks on end, random people who take time to donate blood, teachers who persevere 40 weeks a year, ministers who visit and bring communion, actors who perfect beloved television characters that provide HOURS of entertainment, Christian soldiers who pray, pray, pray around the world…the list could go on forever. Really.
Someone I don't know gave the blood that is making him feel better just now. People I certainly don't know well pour over his medical notes regularly, making decisions about what will be best for him, what will hopefully help him get well. Sure, you could argue it's their job, but it's a job I couldn't do, a job without which we would all be lost.
I hope I’ve said it before, but if not I’ll say it again: Thanks, to everyone who helps us to get through both the good times and the not-so-good. To everyone who helps, cooks, chats, listens and prays. We are grateful.