Familiar Spaces

Today's Photo: "A Regular Basket"

A little over 7 years ago my Grandma Verona had her hip replaced. The surgery went well, but shortly after the surgery she contracted a terrible staph infection. As the infection got worse, the hospital in Iowa where she was a patient realized that they could no longer treat her effectively. She was transferred to St. Mary's hospital in Rochester, Minnesota.

That summer of 2002 was probably one of the worst and best and most terrible and most amazing summers of my life. My mom and I spent a large portion of that summer in Rochester visiting my grandma each and every day.

A few days ago someone asked me about the time in my life I cried the hardest. I didn't say much about it at the time - only that it was the summer after I started college. In truth, I remember those moments distinctly. I was in a bathroom outside the ICU at St. Mary's. The tiles on the walls and floor were gray. I cried harder than I've ever cried. There were big decisions to be made about my grandma's health and future. I was 19, sleep-deprived, and overwhelmed by God's complexities. I prayed in a way I'd never prayed - begging God to help - to fix it.

My grandma died at St. Mary's hospital in Rochester on August 1, 2002. I miss her a lot. I think about her final moments quite a lot, too. And I still get quite weepy. It was my first real encounter with death. And it was also my first real encounter with the divine.

Today I returned to St. Mary's for the first time since that day. And, apparently, I will be going there quite regularly. Because Rochester is only about 10 miles from Stewartville, members of the church who are sick often go there for treatment.

It was a very surreal and bizarre feeling to step through the front doors of St. Mary's. It wasn't really a good feeling or a bad feeling. It was a familiar feeling. Well, actually, it was a sad feeling. But I stuck to the task of completing the visit and tried not to think too much about it until now. So, now I'm giving myself, "Think about it and process it" time.

It's strange how life works. So often we find ourselves in the middle of circles and cycles. I never in a billion years thought I would find myself stepping back into St. Mary's hospital. In many ways, I feel like a significant part of my faith journey started in that building. And now here I am, right back at the top of circle, preparing to go around it again and again.

I love you, Grandma. I wish we could play the piano later and watch Lawrence Welk.

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