What is “OK”?

Hello from Memphis!

This morning I woke up to the sound of Catie sobbing in her sleep. At first I was unsure what was happening, I sat up in bed (we are sharing a bed because Helen and Sean are sleeping in the other bedroom) and looked at Catie. Visually she is peacefully sleeping. The sobbing stopped as soon as I reached out and touched her arm. Shh, it is OK Catie everything is just fine, I told her. Well, now I’m up. I grab my rosary beads (thank you Mrs. Jordan) and go and take a shower. Then I start to think, is everything OK?

Yes it is, we will get back to that point, and no it isn’t, let me start here. No everything is not OK. Things aren’t even close to being OK. What do we need to fix or make things OK? A miracle. Well, first let’s consider what is “OK”? Kevin knows I’ve never been striving for OK. Think about expectation levels; is OK even one of them? Yet when someone is upset, stressed, or crying (especially when someone is crying) people offer them the comforting words of everything is OK or will be OK. Are you kidding me or just yourself? Those are words of comfort?? We need to put a little more thought into our word choice – you have a serious form of cancer, you;re upset and to comfort you I say it is OK. Wouldn’t it be better, more honest, hopefully more accurate to say I am here for you, allow me to share this with you, or to just hold/touch the sobbing person and physically let your touch be the comfort?

Why are people so uncomfortable with their emotions? Not all emotions. Laughter. Joy. Happiness. Excitement. Those feelings or actions we tend to be comfortable with all the time. Anger. Frustration. Sadness. Concern. Very rarely am I comfortable feeling these myself and I become even more uncomfortable when faced with someone else who is feeling one of these. Why? I offer you this. We like control. The idea that we can’t control ourselves or a situation makes me and possibly you the most uncomfortable. Actually acknowledging I am lost here with no direction or clue as to what to do or how to do it makes me the most uncomfortable. But why? The emotions that we all possess are real. Why do we want to control our emotions? Because we can? At what cost? Our emotions are a part of us, they have an important function. To help our bodies physically release all the feeling that is so vast it can’t be understood or contained in our thoughts. Controlling our emotions is ignoring our bodies’ natural way to deal with a situation. Our bodies understand this is too big, too sad, too much to understand or contain within me. So when something is funny we laugh and when something is sad we are to cry. When we try to control these feelings we are in a way denying them and cheating ourselves from witnessing our own humanity. In some every natural human way that provides comfort.

Trust me in my shoes I have very little that provides me with comfort. So what do I do? Well, each day that something happens, that I think shouldn’t have happened, I kindly offer the hospital staff suggestions on how to improve their service to their patients and the patients families. One example, recovery from sedation is scheduled for a one hour time slot after any procedure. The nursing staff then has the responsibility to make certain that vital signs are good, the patient has had something to drink, has a wheelchair, has someone to accompany them out of recovery and they escort you to the door – good-bye. This has happened 4 times since we have arrived at St. Jude’s. On Friday (the fourth time) I received a piece of paper that listed post-procedure expectations, do and don’t and who to call. This was the first time I received such a piece of paper. This was a welcome change. It was also one of my helpful suggestions. I had offered to our doctor after the first recovery and sedation (At that point we were escorted into the hall in a hospital gown at 5pm on a Friday evening. We found ourselves in an empty hallway with no idea where to go to get the a bathroom to change Catie or how to get to the shuttle to get back to the Target House. I turned around and reopened the door we had just come through to find an empty room. Everyone had gone home.) I asked why the change? The answer I received was that there was an incident. Aha. (Do we have to wait for something to go wrong to make a change?)

We need to feel that we are able to contribute and make a difference. To help. To do something – anything. Well to be honest we actually all want to do something that we view as important and valuable. The problem with this is sometimes there is nothing to do. Or is there? I offer you this. Sometimes the thing to do is to witness. I cannot DO anything for Catie. God knows I would. All I can do a be a witness to her struggles, her sadness, her loneliness, her joy, her smile and her courage. We can be present in the life of someone. We can witness their pain, their laughter, their smile and their tears. We can allow ourselves to slow down and simply be touched by the life of another person. Be touched. Not walk by someone and give them a pat and say you OK and proceed to the next thing. The most important thing the we could do in any given day is to make a difference to someone not something. What is more important?

I offer you this. Prayer. Prayer takes me to some peaceful place where all that I am witnessing goes from being Oh God this is too much to Oh God without you this is too much. I need to believe in God. I need to believe that there exists a loving creator who has my best interest at heart. I need to believe that He is in control because in all of this I am not in control. I need to be like a child and surrender completely knowing that I will be taken care of completely. I need to give all of this to God. Not because He created this situation or because He allowed this situation to be but simply because I believe that only a loving God could figure out how to turn such a seemingly crappy situation into something good not just for me and those I love but you too. That is why I pray. So please join me in my prayer for all of you, for Catie and for a miracle.

God Bless you all.


Christine, Kevin, Maggie, Max, Catie, Mia, Molly and M.E.

PS – the selected song for the evening is “God is in control”

This is no time for fear
This is a time for faith and determination
Don’t lose the vision here
Carried away by the motion
Hold on to all that you hide in your heart
There is one thing that has always been true
It holds the world together

God is in control
We believe that His children will not be forsaken
God is in control
We will choose to remember and never be shaken
There is no power above or beside Him, we know ohh
God is in control, oh God is in control

He has never let you down
Why start to worry now?
Why start to worry now?
He is still the Lord of all we see
And He is still the loving Father
Watching over you and me

God is in control
We believe that His children will not be forsaken
God is in control
We will choose to remember and never be shaken
There is no power above or beside Him, we know ohh
God is in control.

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