The house – MY house – might as well be a prison.
I pull up the driveway and turn off the ignition, but can’t make myself open the car door. It will be empty, and too quiet, in there. My family is gone because of my doctor’s mandate: no physical contact, for their sake, for another forty-eight hours. I will be alone, totally alone, to ponder the after-effects of my radioactive iodine treatment.
For two days I’ve lived in a secluded, lead-walled hospital room. During that time a mega-dose of radioactive iodine coursed through my body to kill any cancer cells remaining after the removal of my malignant thyroid gland eight weeks before.
No one could cross a red line at the doorway of my hospital room during my recent stay since I was “contaminated.” My hospital gown and paper plates were thrown into “toxic waste” containers after use. I felt like an unclean leper in Jesus’ day … and rightly so since a chattering Geiger counter held near my stomach at arm’s length by a masked nurse proved I was radioactive!
But finally I’m home … alone.
With a sigh I exit the car and amble toward the house. Sunshine hugs my shoulders, but I don’t care. It’s mid-August – a perfect time for the kids to enjoy themselves for a weekend at the lake.
Pools of tears hang just above my lower eyelids, threatening to spill over like Niagara Falls. Through the blur, I jab the house key in the vague direction of its companion keyhole.
Thyroid cancer – it actually happened to ME!
With overemphasized flourish, I twist and jiggle the key impatiently while anticipating the muggy heat waiting beyond the door. I dread the loneliness waiting for me there.
Finally the stubborn keyhole relents, the doorknob twists, and I step over the threshold. It is hot, very hot, just as expected – stuffy and heavy with typical Midwest summer humidity.
This is great, just great. Now I get to hunker down and suffocate, all by myself.
I walk to the sink, run water into a glass, and gulp the contents. With my free hand I flip the lock on the kitchen window and open its pane.
Sure would be nice to have a breeze, but no luck, I guess.
Something at the other end of the room catches my eye.
What … is … THAT?
I spin so quickly the water in my hand sloshes onto my arm.
Where did THEY come from?
A bud vase with four daisies – my favorite flower – stands in the center of the table. Next to it a note says, “Welcome home. We’re here with you in spirit, if not in body.” It’s signed, “the God Squad.”
Many years before the God Squad had taken shape as three girlfriends - Linda, Janet, and Jamie - joined me to share a common focus: life lived by faith in Jesus. We periodically called God Squad meetings to laugh and cry and share our most pressing prayer concerns.
This time the four flowers standing together with faces turned toward heaven seem to symbolize the Squad’s commitment to prayer.
Those Niagara-like tears finally tumble onto the floor.
What would I do without the Squad?
As sweat pours down my forehead, an unexpected breeze pushes its way through the open window and stirs my hair as if to invite me to move with it through the rest of the house. I walk into the living room to find another bud vase holding daisies!
In the dining room four more blooms greet me!
Upstairs daisies stand with their smiling faces next to my bed; another bunch of four proudly double themselves in the bathroom mirror! As I walk through the house, daisies seem to be stationed carefully at their various outposts. I finger the delicate petals and breathe in their musty aromatherapy to fill the sad, empty spot within.
Thank You, Lord … I’m not alone! The God Squad is praying for me; I know it!
The Squad’s plan seems obvious. They staked out flowery sentinels in every room of my house to remind me of the love of friends who refuse to leave me comfortless. I retrace my steps and gather the daisies together in a huge bouquet – then hug them to my chest.
These aren’t just flowers, they’re messengers from God – angels of mercy!
Solitary confinement is no longer solitary.
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