a ton of water

I type the words into a note on my iPhone. A reminder to drink a ton of water. My body has had enough . . of something. What, I’m not sure. But two weeks ago a small itchy spot turned into a full blown body rash. It’s still me against the rash. Armed with prescriptions, supplements, and the cleanest diet I’ve consumed in months, I’m fighting back against insomnia, crazy itching, and a lot of frustration.

Whatever is going on, my body needs more water. A ton. Especially in a battle.

Health experts say many of us are perpetually dehydrated. In addition to contributing to a slew of problems (headaches, fatigue, dry skin), a lack of water is often misinterpreted as hunger. How often do we reach for food when what we really need is hydration?

“Can I have some ice?” 

As soon as the words begin to form on her lips, I jump to the labor room bedside table. In one smooth action, I grab the styrofoam cup with ice chips and fill the plastic spoon. "No, don’t fill it,” I hear the nurses words in my head. "Just a few chips.” I reluctantly drop a couple back into the cup and bring the spoon to Emily’s parted lips. 

I want to pour her a gallon of water. Everything in me wants to give her relief. In between her labor pains, she utters the same request again and again. “Can I have some ice?”

But in her labor, it comes out more like one word . . . “canihavsumice?”

In the most desperate, trying moments of her young life, her need and desire is water.

It’s hard to go through labor, to bring life into the world. I did it six times and will never forget a single one. But for this momma, it was ten times harder to watch my only girl go through labor. Everything in me wanted to jump up on that table, take all her pain, and say “Here, let me do that for you.” 

Really. If only. But not.

So I content myself with encouraging words, back rubs, and ice duty. And wait for life.

In the waiting, we are quiet. Her gentle, strong husband whispers into her hair, as she weeps and sighs on his shoulder. I feel a bit like an intruder, and my thoughts wander back to a month before. One month to the day.

“Can I have some ice?”

The words are just an exhale. Merged into one . . . “canihavsumice?" There’s barely enough breath for even one. I jump from my chair to Mom's hospice bed and gently spoon a piece of ice into her cracked lips. She receives the meager gift, the only relief I can offer. Her lips barely close, as I watch the labored effort of her tongue roll the ice around in weak effort to quench her parched mouth.

These are her last words. She repeats them over and over over her last few days. And we sit dutifully . . my dad, Mom's sister, my sister . . everything in us futilely willing to take her pain, relieve her suffering, and ready to give her ice.

Aunt Mary & Mom

In the most desperate, trying moments of her too-young-to-die life, her need and desire is water.

I have no idea what it is like to die, to leave this world and all you know and love. I wonder if she felt alone and trapped. We were by her side 24/7, but how much did she know? My solace is the knowledge of One who is always with us. Emmanuel. His presence and comfort transcend consciousness and words. I know He was with her, quenching her thirst and fears.

So we sang hymns, looked at picture albums, told stories, and fed her ice. And waited for life.

There’s another story of two people looking for water. One came to a well to draw. A woman. The other a man. God. He came to the well to ask for a drink. 

And to quench the woman’s thirst forever. 

Jesus said, 
“Everyone who drinks this water will get thirsty 
again and again. 
Anyone who drinks the water I give 
will never thirst—not ever. 
The water I give will be an artesian spring within, 
gushing fountains of endless life."
~John 4

Too often I reach for things that fill but don't quench. I misinterpret my soul's thirst and end up parched.  My body, soul, and spirit all need a ton of water.

Are you thirsty? I am. 

Em & Mom