Short Story: The Dark Night of the Soul
She banged her hands on the cold tiles. The bathroom walls were unbreakable, yet her knuckles pounded.
In the silence of the empty room she cried out to God, “Not yet, I’m not ready to let her go. Not yet.”
Her mother had suffered another stroke. The nurse called. “Your mom has been taken to a nearby hospital.”
Unimagined anguish overcame her heart. Five years ago Hannah’s mom, Joyce, suffered a major heart attack and a stroke that nearly took her life. After months of rehabilitation, Joyce recovered. Taking her mom into her home was difficult but the doctors told Hannah her mom couldn’t live alone anymore. The multiple strokes caused great disconnections with logic. Joyce needed full time care.
Over time Hannah’s mom regained some physical strength but she was never the same. It took a great deal of prayer and research before the decision was made. Moving her mom into an assistant living facility was difficult. Caring for an aging parent is an unpredictable situation. When health declines, they require professional medical assistance.
For years Hannah cared for her mom. Watching over her medical needs, traveling to various doctor appointments, caring for her needs, she intervened for her mom on any every occasion.
There is great stress in a marriage and with sibling relationships when a child cares for their aging parent. That doesn’t stop them however, they do it out of obligation, they do it because they care. It's in their great love for their parent.
On this day Hannah received the devastating news. Every memory came back to her. Those past 5 years, the progress and the health decline, it all came flooding back. In the restroom at her employer, she was crying out. Shattered with wounds and thoughts, this time her mom might die. She wasn’t ready to let her go.
Her fingers ached from the hammering on the wall. The fists of pain ran deep up her elbows into her soul. The dark night of the soul, the day everything changed.
Hannah pulled herself together. Knowing she had to go see her mom, she immediately got her things together and headed towards the hospital.
In everything there is a season. A season of growth, a season of change, and a season of hope, she didn’t know what season she was entering. She was scared.
Her mom was there waiting in the hospital bed. She appeared alert but her voice was slurred.
“What happened Mom?” Hannah asked.
All the doctors were busy in the ER. A young nurse arrived to give a brief update. Hannah kept alert, watching all cues from the medical staff, from her mother. Was her mom going to be alright? The medical staff didn’t seem too alarmed. Perhaps it was a false alarm? She talked to her mom. Confident that she would know what to do, Hannah asked the probing questions. Watching and listening, she always trusted her gut.
“Mom, do you have a headache?” she asked.
Her mother nodded. Unable to speak clearly, her eyes were glazed over. The nurse brought over an aspirin. As Joyce took the pill, she began to cough. Her face turning gray, the cough choking her, everyone in the room stood by, waiting. She was able to swallow the pill but something happened at that moment.
Unaware of the severity, the nurse left the room. There she was alone with her mother again. With a concerned look and a frightful feeling, Hannah held her mom’s hand. “You’ll be fine, mom. The aspirin will work soon.”
Her mother looked at her. Hannah saw it in her eyes. The sorrow, the fear, and the shallow knowledge something wasn’t right. Joyce tried to speak but no words came out. Her face started to droop. The facial paralysis was obvious. The knowledge sank in, she had another stroke.
Right before her eyes, Hannah watched her mother stroke.
The dark night of the soul speaks horror into the heart. With the realization that life is about to change, the darkness of death looming, it creeps in slowly.
The medical staff was unaware. Apparently Joyce’s progress improved since she first arrived. They didn’t notice the droop, the slurred speech, and the grey skin but her daughter did. She was her advocate. “Where’s the doctor?” Hannah asked again.
When you are brave and confident, you don’t take ‘no’ for an answer. No matter what anyone else says, when you know it in your heart something is wrong, you state your case.
The doctor arrived. He didn’t know the woman or her history. He was the on-staff ER doctor.
“Something’s wrong,” Hannah said. Now the moment of truth, will the doctor notice?
He began to talk about her condition upon arrival.
Explaining they ran some preliminary tests and Joyce appears to be doing better. However they want to keep her for observation.
The medical personnel prepared a room for her. Moving her out of ER into her own room, the nurse came in. “You’re lucky. You get your own room. Moving you out of here means someone else is sicker than you.”
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Really, did she just say that? Hannah started to get sick.
They moved into the hallway as the two awaited transport.
Chapter II - to be continued..
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