Friday, February 5, 2010
It is hard to express how a person becomes big in your eyes. It is always personal...it is sometimes about what you value. With the mentally ill clients that I work with it is a little of both. I was trying to "gear up" to meet with a client this morning, feeling a bit resentful at the staff person who visited him yesterday because she took the grocery store run. It is hard to sit with Todd, but that is what he generally wants to do. He asks me at times, "How much time do you have this morning, Lori?" and I want to pull out my schedule and lie and tell him less time than I actually am allotted. I leave his place generally after having listened to his repeated, predictable diatribes on smoking and tobacco, dating older woman, the book of Revelation or alcohol and caffeine and his superman tolerance for each. I always smell like an ash tray and have to assure his paranoid questions that I didn't think anything strange about him the last time I was with him. It's a littany. An unsettled, obscure chant I must sing every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. God showed up this last Tuesday when I visited Todd. I'm learning He tends to show up where I least expect Him. That day, Todd told me over the phone that he had had "projectile vomit" the night before. He mentioned he feared for his life and had gone to the emergency room with his brother's assistance. I, of course, was not even close to wanting to visit him, however he had a follow-up appointment at his family doctor. Vowing to myself that I would drive him the 3 minutes to the doctor's office with my window rolled down so as to not catch his germs, I pulled up outside his bright pink narrow door. As Todd got in the company car he started talking. And talking. He filled that small car with words as I filled it with equal parts fresh air. After his appointment he mentioned he needed to get a prescription at the pharmacy in the next town and, could we stop at Kwik Star to get him some breakfast? Breakfast?! We turned toward Kwik Star as my thoughts raced for solutions. When he climbed in the car with two chili dogs and zero napkins, I told him I would drop him off at his apartment and he could go home to rest with his "breakfast" and I could go get his prescriptions and bring them back. He nodded agreement as his mouth was full; chili and mustard on each corner of his mouth. As I pulled up to his apartment he opened the door with a smear of yellow on the interior and asked in his slow, thick East coast accent if I could come up and help him with the sample of nasal spray the doctor's office had given him when I return. So much for dropping off the medications at the door and running. As I pulled away I couldn't control the hilarious, uncontrollable laugh-whimpers that erupted from me. Thankfully, I had time to gather control on the ride there and back. I prayed and wondered at what was rolling around inside of my stomach, assuring myself there was no way it was the stomach flu already. I climbed his steep, narrow stairs and knocked on the door. He called, "Just hold on, Lori." He opened the door a minute later with bare feet and an explanation of having to get dressed as he'd climbed in bed and dutifully rested. As I walked in the door, I sensed Something come over me. His dark, windowless front room held no invitation for me. Ever. But this time I knew I was not alone with Todd. Compassion entered me. I explained his meds to him and demonstrated his nasal spray. I watched as he guzzled a bottle of water like a pro --The directions did say, "drink plenty of water" after all. As I turned to go, Todd thanked me. "This was really nice of you, Lori." And I told him I hoped he felt better soon and I'd check on him tomorrow. Todd became big to me as I saw how small I was. He was brave and obedient - wanting to do the right thing. He didn't have a mean bone in his body and I was ashamed of my disdain. It is always personal - - these moments when you recognize Truth at work. I thanked God as I walked down the stairway, shaking my head at His great grace in showing up to help Todd in his moment of need. And me, in my even greater moment of need.