The hospital has been our second home the past few days. That hospital. The one where we learned Austin was gone. It' been nearly four years but it is still that hospital - and probably always will be. I hate it. The smell, the lights, that room. We had to walk past that room on Sunday.
I had to push away every screaming, crying fiber of my soul to focus on the "emergency" at hand because a big part of me wanted to slide into the floor and break. But a sweet little girl, who rarely complains, was in obvious pain. And she needed us...wanted me.
Tina, my niece, has blessed us since moving in last summer. Unreal to imagine that she's been here nearly a year. So much has changed since that first weekend she stayed with us, "just until we figured things out." Now, it's hard to imagine her petite smiling face not here. I miss her when she's away.
In fact, she was away this weekend and got hurt. Saturday night, while we were out with Noah and his baseball team, Tina injured her foot. Her exact comment on Facebook was, "OMG My sister just fell off a horse and I have a huge hole in my foot and there is blood everywhere!" Needless to say, I was slightly panicked when calling to check. I was assured all was well. Apparently she'd ran barefoot chasing after her sister, who she saw slide off a horse, and hurt her foot but was ok.
By the next morning though, all was not well. My sister calls, as we're headed out the door, asking if we want to meet at the house or the ER. Apparently Tina didn't just step on something but whatever punctured her foot was in her foot - and trying to come out the other side. Even though my sister, and husband, offered to take her, Tina wanted me there. So despite my body's reactions, I knew I had to be.
Unfortunately, an xray can only detect so much so on Sunday nothing was found. They dosed her up with antibiotics and gave us an appointment card to see a surgeon the next day. But the little girl who rarely complains was in pain, scared, and breaking my heart. She was hurting and there wasn't much I could do, except pray over her and wait for morning.
The little girl put on a brave face on the way to the doctor, but I could see the questions and worry in her eyes. The doctor shared our concern, sending her immediately to an outpatient room and scheduling a surgery. Stubbornly independent, she declined the wheelchair, hopping on crutches across the parking lot to check in. It gave her a distraction from her worries, I guess. Once settled in her room, her nervousness was confirmed, as she reached for my hand.
That brave little girl was beyond strong, never complaining as we waited four hours for surgery, or as they tried painfully to set up her IV - twice. The nurses bragged on her. The other staff complimented her spirits. And later the doctor shared the sentiments, amazed she'd walked at all, considering the three inch chunk of wood embedded in her tiny, yet infected foot. I called her a duck on water...calm on top, paddling underneath.
The brave-but hurting-and-still-a-bit-scared little girl smiled.
Once in the car, packed and ready to leave, her first tears of the day appeared. In pain? Still worried? I ran through the list of possibilities verbally with her. No, just the obvious...she wanted to be HOME. Our home. And suddenly all the stress and haunted memories of the weekend began to fade just a bit.
She's needed us this past year, just as much as we needed her. Tina has been a beautiful distraction, as I predicted so many, many months ago. But now I was seeing she wanted us just as much. Was finally comfortable here... settled... feeling a part of our family she so obviously already is.