The night was dark and shadows danced through the inside of the car. My mom hugged the steering wheel. My hands were clasped, knuckles bearing a white glow in the pale moonlight. Four wheels carried us with urgency. We were nearing the emergency room. My heart pounded within my acoustic bones and they seemed to rattle with each heavy beat. We parked. My mom and I were on mission as we walked through the glass doors, stepping into the sterile, foreign air.
“Shepard Matthews?” Mom asked the nurse at the front desk. She gave us the number. We started towards his room.
We passed room upon room until finally reaching the right one. We were greeted by a family friend who stood blurry eyed. I peeked inside. He laid there. My best friend, my blue-eyed boy, my dizzy dance partner and Sunday-afternoon lunch date. My company on rainy days, the one who pulled the loose thread of my thoughts and unraveled those messy knots. The boy who snuck sweet kisses in empty stairways that echoed with our laughter, now laid in a room in which my lonely footsteps echoed through the halls to reach. He was incoherent, as the nurses already pumped him full of pain medication. His eyes were fluttering open and closed like butterflies with broken wings. Surrounding him was family and close friends, sitting and standing, maybe kneeling. Each of us just wanted to be near Shepard. We just wanted to ground ourselves around him and feel his cold skin and reassure ourselves that he was okay.
That night and the following days Shepard spent in the hospital have marked my life forever. It all was so timely, as he and his family were planning to move to Asia Minor as M’s (that’s what missionaries refer to themselves as) the next week. His admission should have put a halt to that, but it didn’t. His family still moved a couple weeks later, when Shepard was released from the hospital with no diagnosis but a helpful prescription. So, why I am writing about this? I wasn’t the one in the hospital. My family didn’t risk everything to move to a foreign country. However, this experience is so important to me because of one thing, love.
In Chemistry, a compound is a substance formed by multiple elements. These atoms are usually bonded by molecules. Compounds are fascinating because the composition of the atoms is always the same. Take water, for instance. You can boil or freeze it and yet, it will remain water. It has simply undergone a physical transformation. However, to change one compound to another requires a chemical change. In many ways, your life is like a compound. The experiences that compose it will stay the same. For instance, you can’t change your past. However, I believe that love is the chemical that forces our lives to undergo a chemical change. I believe that when we allow love to reign over our past, present and future, our life is not just bettered, but it is transformed into another one; A shiny new compound, if you will.
Love is what led the Matthews’ to become missionaries. Love is what kept me sane while I held Shepard’s hand as he laid in a hospital bed.
Without love, we are compounds bound by molecules of regret, anxiety, sadness and loneliness. The first night that Shepard was admitted hurt like hell. It broke me to see him in pain, but I had love. I had love and truly, it is the very marrow of life.
I thought you might enjoy this guest post by my seventeen-year-old granddaughter. Warmly Dr. Beth