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Counting the Cost

We saw this sign last week in a hospital car park. We had come on our umpteenth visit to Glasgow Children’s Hospital during our two week stint in Scotland. This time we were waiting to collect our son because, not for the first time, there had been a sudden change in our grandson’s symptoms in the Intensive Care Unit. Our son texted us: 'Could we wait until the little one was settled?' We could and we did – but Mike muttered under his breath the words of the prayer of Ignatius Loyola that we discovered had been in both our minds during parts of this trip – ‘to give and not to count the cost.’

As it happened, the ‘settling’ that night took about an hour. Since then, our youngest grandson is much improved in general. We are delighted to report that on Wednesday he came out of the intensive care unit where he had been after a heart operation and a renal procedure. So many indications are positive. He is now back in the renal ward under the supervision of one of the top renal consultants in Scotland – a woman in whom we have the highest confidence.

No-one could have waited that evening or at other times during the last two weeks with more willingness than we did. It’s what we went for. It’s what we all do in our families all the time when we are needed. Most parents and grandparents, believe it’s the biggest privilege in the world to make that offer. And our family could not have been more grateful! But, for us not to ‘count the cost’ of our two-week trip in the last two weeks would be folly!

Maybe it’s the idea of ‘counting’ that Ignatius doesn’t like! We would agree that counting, itemising and measuring what has been given is not the point. But recognising that a cost has been paid, that resources of time plus spiritual and emotional energy have been spent is part of self-awareness and the self-compassion that we have had to learn over the years. We’ve got wise on ‘pacing ourselves’. And we’ve seen at close quarters too many casualties among messianic believers in ‘service’ and ‘caring’ and ‘saving the world’ who did not practise the balance between compassion and self-compassion.

Yesterday, after a last visit to the renal ward on Wednesday, we drove the 411 miles home. We are exhausted. Periodically, service vehicles need some time to get their batteries re-charged! Today is the first day of doing it or rather not doing much...there will be more!

As we do so, we are optimistic – cautiously optimistic – and so grateful. We are grateful for our children’s faithfulness to their children, for our friends and their support and most of all to the doctors and nurses whose generosity in exercising their gifts and skills in treating this tiny body and soul renew our confidence in human nature.

Also as we do so, we visualise our grandson’s little body which has undergone so much, his little hands holding on to ours but most of all his eyes, his eyes which searched us out and connected with us. What a gift! Counting the cost? Worth it all!

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Such an important note you ring here, Helen. Thanks for the time and energy taken to ‘count the cost’ for us!

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