I wasn’t ready for the tears. Patients don’t typically cry during visits for diabetes, especially when their sugars are well controlled and their labs are all normal.
The tears started when I deviated from the standard medical questions. As I was wrapping up the visit I asked, “How is the rest of your life going?” Immediately they came, prompting the need for a box of facial tissues as well as additional questions. It was clear her heart was broken.
She had lost her grandchild a month earlier. The child hadn’t died, it had been taken away.
He son and daughter-in-law had adopted a daughter. Unable to have a child on their own their prayers had been answered when their adoption attorney found a woman unable to care for the baby she was carrying. They brought her home the day she was born. Life was perfect and she was perfect and my patient was in love with her grandchild.
28 days later the birth mother changed her mind and in an instant the child was taken, taken to live in a car with her birth mother, never to return to the family that had fallen so completely in love with her. They were left with an empty nursery, broken hearts and the question, “Why?” echoing in their minds.
My heart broke along with my patient’s as she told me her story. I battled to hold back tears but eventually gave in and let them flow. I thought of my adopted daughter, of how she had immediately and permanently captured our hearts, and imagined the magnitude of my patient’s loss and the depths of her grief. I struggled to find words of comfort and solace. we talked for nearly 20 minutes.
At the end of our conversation we walked out of the exam room together. I stopped at the nurse’s station and said good-bye. She turned to walk to the exit, paused for a moment, then reached into her purse and turned back. As she did I noticed she had her phone in her hands. “I want to show you something,” she said.
She quickly scrolled through her photos and stopped on the image of a beautiful month old baby. Her hands trembled as she showed it to me. “This is her,” she said, telling me what I already knew. My heart broke again for her as I looked at the photo. Impulsively I touched her shoulder and guided her back into the exam room. I closed the door and held the phone with her, joining her in staring at the picture.
“Can I pray for her?” I asked. I looked at the photo with tears in my eyes and prayed. I prayed for God’s protection and love, that the child would grow up healthy and loved, and that she would one day be reunited with her adoptive family in heaven. It was a helpless prayer, the only thing I could do. I gave her the phone and a hug and she left the office.
Her story reminded me that I live in a world full of hurting people. I am surrounded by broken and breaking hearts, by people wondering where God is and what he is doing, people who are losing hope and struggling to make it through the day. People who have a burden they need to share with someone else, people who need love and prayer and someone to care.
I am reminded that no matter how busy I get, I should never be too busy for them. I need to be open and aware, to be the one who asks the right questions and then takes the time to listen.
Thanks for reading and sharing. Please pray for the baby, for the family that has her and the family that lost her.
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