This week, I’m having some back pain. No, it’s not all from having three teenage children. Some of it’s from, well, from getting older. The pain’s enough to make me wish I had a button to push and make it all go away.
We have such a button in the hospital. It’s called a PCA (patient controlled analgesia) pump. Each time the button is pressed, a prescribed dose of pain medication is given, accompanied by a ping. Of course, the pump won’t allow for overdoses, so if the button is pressed before its time, it remains silent.
PCA’s often are used in the pediatric cancer unit of our hospital. And never have I thought of those PCA pumps more vividly than I did on a visit to 18-year-old patient Alicia Kobrock.
You may recall Alicia as the girl whose story I wrote in November (see the story at www.chaplain
norris.com/2004/11122004.asp). I wrote about Alicia and her battle with cancer after seeing an award-winning picture she’d taken of her ballet shoes.
I went to Alicia’s room one rainy afternoon in March for a routine visit and, as I walked through the doorway, I suddenly found my gaze fixed on the image of her thumb. Her thumb was poised over the PCA button and she was pressing it repeatedly as if begging it to alleviate her physical pain.
But what I saw in her other hand was far more hopeful. I saw Bob’s hand, her father’s hand — and through that hand came streaming a great and mighty strength. Through this hand, there came the assurance of being held. This was a grip of knowing — and being known. These hands were gripped in a hold that extended up the arms of each of them where it found an anchoring deep in their hearts.
Still in the doorway, in the blink of an eye, my mind fast-forwarded to a day I knew was coming — the day of her funeral. But it wasn’t a funeral image I imagined; it was a wedding. It was that part in the wedding where the father of the bride traditionally pauses at the altar, unclasps his daughter’s hand, kisses her and escorts her to the arms of her beloved.
And in this scene with Alicia and her father, I imagined Alicia unclasping her hand with her earthly father and I imagined her hand being placed in the loving hand of whom she called her “heavenly father.” And in that exchange the pain was lost and the healing took place.
I don’t remember a lot about our afternoon visit, but I can tell you that Bob held that grip for hours on end, and for many more endless days.
On March 20, in what the Apostle Paul describes as a “mystery,” Alicia was transformed in the “twinkling of an eye” and Bob and Linda entrusted their daughter with all her pain and promise not yet fulfilled, into the hands of one who would fulfill her promise beyond anything imaginable.