When my daughter Susan told me she was going to have a hysterectomy – the tumor had grown and needed to be removed, along with her uterus – she was suddenly six, again, not the 42 year old woman with grown children she had become.
The surgery was scheduled for Friday, March 24, and she was glad when I told her I’d be there. Later, when I told her that I planned to stay for the weekend, including Sunday, she was moved to tears, and I was reminded of thirty-six years worth of weekends when there were family gatherings and I couldn’t be there.
Before I left for her home in reading, MA, just outside of Boston, Jan Braunle brought a shawl into my office which she had knit for Sue. I knew Sue would appreciate it; the attached card says: “This shawl has been blessed by our circle of knitters with loving hands and hearts. may divine grace be upon this shawl, warming, comforting, enfolding and embracing. May the one who receives this shawl be cradled in hope, kept in joy, graced with peace, and wrapped in love.”
I’ve delivered these prayer shawls to several of our folks during the past couple of years, but this was different, of course. Sue and I shared a special moment as I read those words to her as I tucked her into bed the night before her surgery.
My life was changed forever on August 7, 1963. It was deepened; sensitized; made more fragile, vulnerable and real. Twenty three years later she handed my first grandchild to me, and I realized something that I can’t express – it doesn’t fit into the normal, day-to-day scheme of things. It’s about that thing we call ‘awe.’ Or ‘wonder.’ Or ‘mystery.’
That feeling of awe, wonder and mystery is the essence of all that is sacred in life.
During her 42 years Susan has had several surgeries, the first five were attempts to repair an eye lid damaged at birth. When she was six years old she was hit by a car. At each of those times I faced the big fear. This recent surgery, the hysterectomy, as frequent as it is done, tapped into that place of vulnerability. Love makes us fragile, but it’s kind of fragility we would never choose to be without.
Chip, a thoughtful and generous son-in-law, was able to arrange to have Sue stay in a special section on the 16th floor of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, The Ruth and Carl Shapiro Pavilion. When I first walked into the pavilion I took note of the names over the doors leading to Sue’s room, and I felt a sense of appreciation for the Shapiro’s gift.
I don’t know anything about Ruth and Carl Shapiro, except that they donated a significant amount of money for a special purpose, and now my daughter and her family were beneficiaries of their generosity. I encourage you to be generous in your pledge to the church so we can continue the ways we minister to one another, weaving lives – like that shawl.