It’s now been three weeks and a day since I had my surgery. Someone asked how I felt this morning and I told them today when I woke up I already feel like you’ve been run over by three busses. But that’s better than the seven busses last week, or the twelve the week before that.
So, yes I am getting better, but even in the best scenarios this is a long climb out of a deep hole. I had no idea how much it takes for the body to heal the trauma caused by cutting my chest and my heart open. I am embracing the rest but wishing I had the energy to at least do some writing that I’m excited about. I just don’t have the stamina or focus for that yet. But I am getting better each day and it is a delight to notice something new every day that lets me know my heart is healing, my body is stronger and my mind is sharper. I’m grateful for that.
Take last night, for instance. My specialized heart surgery recovery team came by yesterday after school. You can see most of them pictured above, though it doesn’t include Sara or Julie. It’s always a joy to see them and nothing helps my heart more than spending time with them. Their dad was out of town so we took them to dinner afterward at one of their (and my!) favorite restaurants, Bandit’s in Thousand Oaks. As we were ordering I noticed a young couple sitting at a table behind Sara making goo-goo eyes at each other and doting over a one-year old sitting in a high chair at the end of the table. It was so sweet and I was touched by the love of that young family.
I pointed them out to Sara and suggested we pick up their check as a way to bless them. She agreed. It’s something we do now and then ever since I was involved in a fight for the check at an ice cream place in Framingham, MA twenty-five years ago. When our hosts pulled rank demanding to pay it, we decided to pay the check of a young couple on the other side of the restaurant as an act of surrender. The whole situation turned out to be hysterical and gracious all at the same time and we’ve laughed about for decades. So occasionally Sara and I do it for people God seems to put on our hearts, though it’s probably been a few years since we’d last done it.
But last night was different. I didn’t really feel like God nudged us to, I just wanted to as a way to celebrate their love for each other. So I told the waitress to bring me their check when they were done and I would pay it. She asked if I wanted to keep it anonymous, which we usually do, but this time I felt like saying that she didn’t have to. If they asked it was OK to tell them.
When they finished they got up to leave and walked by our table without even a glance. Surely they didn’t know. They must have gone to seek out the waitress however, because two minutes later that young mother walked up behind me and tapped me on the shoulder. I looked up startled and immediately she broke into tears. I stood up introduced myself and she hugged me whispering in my ear, “You have no idea! You have no idea!” She was right. I didn’t and it felt a bit awkward holding this young mother I didn’t know in the middle of the restaurant
When she collected herself she pulled back and asked me why. I told her I was so taken by how they were treating each other and we just wanted to bless them. “That little boy was in a hospital Sunday night with a 105 degree fever and we almost lost him.” She broke down crying again. Now I was tearing up. “You have no idea what this means to us, that someone knows.” I love that!
I told her I’d been in the hospital three weeks before with open-heart surgery and we laughed. I introduced her to Sara and Julie and off she went. I have no idea who she is, no name or number, but it was so cool watching Jesus love her through a very small act. Sara and I left the restaurant with our hearts soaring. How fun was it to be part of something like that and watch someone be loved by God without us having to tag it with our own graffiti? It was awesome. And Julie said her kids talked about it all the way home wanting to know why we did what we did and why that woman was crying and hugging grandpa!
And I recognized that I was outside my recovery enough to once again notice a bigger hand around me touching others. I love that. I don’t know anything more fun than finding a spontaneous way to love someone around me, even a stranger. I’m still so incredibly grateful for last night and so blessed that God let us be part of that couple’s story, if only for a night.