for whom the blessing rolls


Originally uploaded by jayfherron

As those who know my art also know I am not an artist who sits at an easel and has a view of what I am going to paint. At least,not a natural backdrop such as trees or flowers. My paintings usually begin with the canvas being treated with several swaths of color just swiped on and then over a period I look at them and the picture and the story unfolds.

I had no interest in what I was beginning to paint in this piece-nothing felt right.

Art is a way for me to vent. I somehow express energies that are disturbing me and never really realize the images until later when I return to look at what I had done the night before.

I actually did not like this painting-it was stupid and was making no sense-until the first time I saw my new grandson,Jared.

Jared has spent the first four weeks of his life in a plexiglass box. He has had two surgeries on his stomach-up until this past week he has had tubes and wires attached to him-one tube in his nose another in his mouth and one embedded in his tiny little tummy. There was an IV in his head-and one in his wrist. In the beginning the only way to touch him was through the portholes in the sides of his plexiglass box.

Much of that-the hoses and tubing-is whittling away. He is gaining strength and now the family can hold the little guy-only the few remaining wires are in the way. He is getting better-but there is going to be a long road ahead. We might become so familiar  with Shands Hospital over the coming years that security will say hello using our first names! (as of this morning-a new IV has been replaced in his head)

When I saw this little child the first time all pumped by machines and binging noises from the monitor’s and computers my heart broke for him-and as I prayed for him I scanned the room around us and listened to the constant binking noises from all of the other babies…way back in the distant corner in a private room lay another tiny baby. That one had so many machines hooked to it and various pumps…and just only days old,and prayed for them too..

That first night I went home. I do my best thinking in the cab of a truck-I sat in mine and wept. In between times of the flow of tears I would walk around the house and out to the studio-one tour made me stop in front of this painting and it stunned me to see what I had done. I see these hands coming out of holes-holding on. I see the face with the mouth open-and the colored stairs going into it. I see the three flights of stairs…Jared is on the third floor. The painting became easier after that-and each morning recently has begun with working to finish it.

Jared has “graduated” – to quote the nurses in the new unit. He is gaining weight and as mentioned-the tubes are gone. As I sit there in the rocker by his plexiglass box I can see a larger span of the unit than from when he was across the hall in the critical care section. I cannot see all of the area-but enough to count up to 25 other plexiglass boxes. To arrive at Jared’s plexiglass box one passes 6 others-you can’t help but notice the stitches and gadgetry attached to each. They are tiny…they are small enough to resemble a plucked broiler hen in the meat department of the grocery store. The one little girl next to him cries constantly-signs are taped to its little space saying to be so quiet-they are trying to settle the poor thing. Not just one day…everyday.

Missing are other parents. Not every infant-but most of them. The nurses comment on how they notice the difference between the tiny things that are loved and held by family-and those that are not. Thankfully little Jared is knowing we love him. The nurses comment as how sometimes no one comes to see the baby until the time has come to take it home. We come everyday to whisper-we want you home.

It is a new picture to see. Normal birth children are tiny-but seeing these ‘pree-mies’ is an indescribable experience. They are so tiny it is almost hard to imagine they are living beings-but they are so precious to see and the little sounds they make are unlike what a usual baby makes,their cries are almost like the sound of birds singing,the voices are so small.

I cannot comprehend all of this. The experience of being in the midst of this everyday strikes places in my heart that would rather not be disturbed. I have bad memories of tragic times with children-my brother and my sister both dying as children. My cousin had a daughter born with the same circumstance as many of these preemies-he has told me many times of the grief of her short life,she is buried next to my brother and sister. A few months ago a newborn baby was found in a cardboard box laying next to the highway in Marion County Florida-the fire ants had located the baby before anyone else did. It just kills me inside to think of that poor little thing-not even given a chance and such rudeness is already in its little life.

It is like I said the other day-we have pets at home and we cuddle them and keep care of them just like we would little children. I come home from any journey away from the house-but once in the driveway,my little ones come out as happy and carefree as can be. Up until a few weeks ago I never would have thought of them in this way-I have driven past Shands Hospital for years and never gave one thought about what was up on the third floor.

I hear the word ‘blessing’ a lot lately. This is a blessing-and that will be a blessing. I do believe there are spiritual blessings-but mainly believe they come over a great period of time. Things in this ‘blessing’ are yet to be revealed-I believe there are going to be many lessons first before there are going to be blessings.

There are too many…way too many plexiglass boxes with tiny new early born babies-too many babies with stitches in their guts,not days old and having had surgery,to me-is not much of a blessing. Knowing that many of these babies-including ours,are going to require further surgery to repair holes in their tiny hearts….too many babies in the ICU with no mothers or family standing by everyday with love and hope.

I think there will be many lessons first.

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