On Friday evening and all day Saturday, I just tried to be there for my friends and their children. I was strong and I planned on being so as long as they needed me to be. Saturday evening, Brenda asked me if I would pick up their daughters and take them to church on Sunday, as she wanted to go to the hospital and be there when Jim's doctor stopped in. I said no problem - I've taken the girls to church before. It was no big deal.
It proved to be a bigger deal than I ever expected and by Sunday morning, my strength failed me.
As I said, I've taken the girls to church before when their parents were out of town, or Jim was working and someone had the flu. But Sunday, I was very conscious of the drastic difference and I knew the girls were, as well. This was no temporary flu bug - this was dadcan'tbeherebecauseheisinthehospitalwithcancerandmomneedstobewithdadsoMissBarbisfillingin. It was a very emotional experience with so many different, unexpected thoughts and feelings slamming in to me.
I've sat in "our pew" by myself before and it never felt as empty as it did this past Sunday when there were four of us. This made me angry and very sad. This was not the way things were supposed to be, but because of sin in this fallen world, people get sick and families suffer. I hate that they have to go through this. I hate to see the pain and fear in their eyes.
All I wanted to do was cry (and I did). But I tried not to because I didn't want to upset the girls. When I couldn't hold back the tears any longer, I wanted to bolt to the ladies room. However, that would leave the girls even more alone and that could not and would not happen! So I tried to cry inconspicuously, and when the girls noticed, I just put my arms around them. I wanted to explain to them that I wasn't crying because I was frightened, but I was crying because they were frightened and sad, and I don't want them to suffer. But I didn't know how to explain it to them, and besides it would have been difficult in the middle of worship service (I hope they understand).
The issue now was the child to arm ratio was not balanced - three girls, two arms, one teary-eyed and emotional Miss Barb. How do parents do it! No matter what I did, someone was short-changed. I tried resting my arm on one's shoulder while my hand squeezed another's arm, but this seemed inadequate. I tried holding their hands - with two small hands in my one larger hand. This didn't seem to be enough, either. I tried a number of configurations, all of which seemed insufficient. All the while, I wished another parent (someone who knew what they were doing) would come forward and take over for me. And I selfishly wished someone would come hold ME. The most effective and optimum ratio for comforting is still one child, two arms.