I love a room with a view, especially if it is a hospital room. While NYU Medical Center may not pass as a five-star hotel, some of the views certainly rival high rise hotels in Manhattan. When Johanna is admitted to the hospital, I pray not only for her healing and welfare, but also for a bed by the window. It’s the little things in life that make it all worth it.
The sun was rising over Kip’s Bay when I woke Johanna. She was admitted to the hospital the day before, scheduled for another surgery to correct a blockage in her shunt. I got her out of the hospital bed to look at the sunrise, before the transport people arrived to take her to surgery.
“Look, Jo, it’s gonna be a great day!”, I said trying to convince myself even more than her. Johanna looked at the beautiful sun rising over the East River and smiled. She said weakly, “Mom, that sunrise reminds me of a song.” Of course it did. We are always joking that everything is a song cue for Johanna.
Her voice was shaky but the words rang clear.
“You paint the morning sky, with miracles in my mind. My hope in you will stand, for you hold me in your hand. Lord, I amazed by you and how you love me.”
I smiled at Johanna, marveling at her faith, determination and ability to find beauty in tough moments like these. Despite her pain and the looming presence of this disease in her brain, Johanna finds the miracle in the moment and it always reminds her of a song.
She was a little quieter as we wheeled her out the elevator doors and onto what I refer to as the runway, the hallway where we wait our turn to enter the operating room suites. A parade of doctors and nurses came to greet me and Johanna, treating her as if she was a celebrity. Name and birth date confirmed and a concise medical history was given each time. Professionals shook their heads and marveled at her brave demeanor when they realized that this was Johanna’s 85th run through those operating room doors.
For whatever the reason, we waited on the runway for longer than usual. Tired from a week of little sleep, I huddled next to Jo’s chair and smiled as her eyes met mine. She seemed so confident, so sure that all would be well. This 17-year-old young lady, who struggles to read and write because of trauma to her brain. possesses a wisdom which I long to grasp. As if she could read my mind and wanting to erase any doubt, Johanna began to sing to me. She sang that same melody.
“Lord I amazed by you and how you love me. How wide, how deep, how great is your love for me…”
She smiled as I quietly joined her chorus of faith. Then, from behind me, a strong and beautiful voice echoed the melody. At first I thought I was delirious from sleep deprivation. Then, as a middle-aged woman stood next to the wheelchair, I realized that we had vocal back up from a lovely aide assigned to the runway.
She recognized the song and sang along. The three of us sang this simple melody, reminding one another and anyone who listened, that God’s great love is wide and deep. We were oblivious to the bustle of beds and chairs, wheeling people into the operating rooms. As the notes rang clear, the world around us was frozen and nothing else mattered but that we were “amazed at how He loved us.”
When Johanna took us to the end of her sweet melody, the aide shook her head and smiled, as she gently tapped Jo on the shoulder.
“Thank you, for that song. Thank you, little lady, for starting my day right. That song and those beautiful words;” she touched her heart as she shared, “For the whole day through, that song will rest in my heart.”
Indeed it was good to be reminded of God’s love, especially as I wheeled Johanna into the operating room, as I had done over 80 times before. There, I sang her to sleep, as if it were the first surgery and left the operating room in peace, hoping it was her last.
Johanna gave me a gift that day; a way to maintain the peace that surpasses understanding. Like the aide in the hallway expressed, I too let Jo’s song of unconditional love rest in my heart. Those words and melody became the background music that played behind every scene and scenario throughout the day, influencing my thoughts and calming my frazzled emotions. While I waited for Jo to come out of surgery, in the midst of blaring sirens and the endless movement of busy people in this NYC hospital, I was amazed by the love of God which enveloped me in peace.
Inspired by Johanna’s simple faith and encouraged by the message of her song, I was amazed at how God loves me and there I found my peace.
The prophet Isaiah foretold of a time of peace where “lions and lambs lie together” and he promised that “a child shall lead them”(Isaiah 11). May the songs of children’s hearts and the messages of love that they proclaim lead the world to true and lasting peace.
Eileen Benthal has a B.A. in theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville. She is a writer, speaker and wellness coach at 40DaysToFocus.com and NOFO Wellness Center. She works with clients locally and around the U.S. who are excited about balancing their health in body, mind and spirit.
Eileen and her husband Steve live in Jamesport and have four young adult children. Their youngest, 16-year-old Johanna, is a teenager with special needs. Eileen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org andfacebook.com/40DaysToFocus.