Last Friday, at 4:00 a.m., I received a frantic phone call from my best friend. Her spouse was being life-flighted to a hospital in Houston. He had suffered a massive brain aneurysm. I immediately made arrangements for my husband to take care of our two boys and headed to pick her up. Two hours later we arrived to what would be the longest weekend of our lives.
Families sit gathered in their corners of the ICU waiting room, hopeful for good news about their loved ones that never seems to come. A doctor walks in and a hush falls over the room. We all sit quietly and try to keep it together when a family falls apart as the doctor tells them their loved one will never wake up.
The hours tick by. We watch this happen over and over again, knowing everyone in this room is here for the same reason. Knowing their pain, because we feel it too. The feeling of despair and hopelessness, for ourselves and these strangers we now share a bond with.
Some families talk loudly and angrily, wanting answers. Some pray even louder, asking for God’s intercession. Some sit with blank stares and tear-stained faces. We all wait.
In the late hours of the night, when the waiting room is closing and only a few remain, something beautiful happens.
A lone woman sits quietly in the corner crying, her head bowed. One family gathers in song with their hands in the air as they ask God for strength through praise and worship. Their voices grow louder and the Holy Spirit descends.
The lone woman gets to her feet and wanders over to the family singing. Involuntarily, her hands go into the air and she joins in their song. The circle opens and she walks in as it silently closes around her, enfolding her in comfort and peace. I watch with unshed tears as, in a mere heartbeat of time, they become family, no longer strangers.
Regardless of the different colors of their skin, despite their circumstance, or maybe in spite of it, these strangers will forever be connected. A common ground is found and love overflows as grief finds another soul to torment. Amidst tragedy, God destroys boundaries and humans remain.