AP NEWS

Faith & You: When I really didn’t feel like talking, I listened – Terry Pluto

December 7, 2018

Faith & You: When I really didn’t feel like talking, I listened – Terry Pluto

CLEVELAND, Ohio — I didn’t want to talk.

That’s what I kept thinking as I looked at the woman sitting next to me on my flight home from Houston.

My morning had started late in the evening — depending upon how you view getting up at 3 a.m. to head to the airport.

She was middle-aged, came on the flight with a slight limp. She had several carry-on bags that she stuffed under the seat in front of her.

She struggled to take off her jacket. I helped her with it. She thanked me about 47 times.

Then she pulled out a pill box, grabbed a few and took them.

Next, she held up a plastic bag and asked the flight attendant, “Can you fill most of this up with ice.”

She paused.

“I need it for my medication,” she said.

The flight attendant complied.

We settled in for a long flight. I read for about an hour. She spent a lot of time looking at her phone.

I tried to sleep. So did she.

It didn’t work for either of us, even though I sensed we were exhausted.

Then she got up to go to the bathroom. She made it up the aisle and back, but she was unstable on her feet.

JUST DO IT

“Talk to her,” I heard.

I’m not the kind of person who hears from God all the time. And when God does speak, it’s a whisper…

A few words…

Usually telling me to do something I know I should be doing in the first place…

“How are you holding up?” I asked.

She smiled, shook her head.

“OK,” she said.

“Really?”

I asked that still not wanting to hear what probably was going to be a long story.

I was guessing she was a cancer patient flying home after being treated at a place such as Houston’s MD Anderson Hospital.

And I really didn’t want to hear her tale of pain and suffering.

“I’ve been better,” she said.

She smiled. This obviously was a very kind-hearted, quiet woman dealing with something very serious.

I heard the whisper again: “Just talk to her.”

So we talked.

SOMETHING IS VERY WRONG

For years, she worked in a Houston hospital. She had risen up to be the head of her department.

About three years ago, she began having pain in various parts of her body. Then her speech began to slur.

“I used to be great doing math in my head,” she said. “Then I couldn’t add. I had a hard time talking. I couldn’t think straight.”

She went to various doctors.

“No one could figure it out,” she said. “After a while, they were convinced I was crazy. It was all emotional problems. After they tell you that for a while, you begin to believe it.”

She said all this in a soft voice, shaking her head…almost as if talking to someone else.

“Did they ever figure it out?” I asked.

“I was having problems with my feet,” she said. “I was seeing my podiatrist. I told him what was going on. He said I should get tested for Lyme Disease.”

“You have Lyme Disease?” I asked.

“Exactly,” she said. “It just got worse and worse. I lost my job at the hospital because I had to go on disability. I couldn’t do it. Some days, I couldn’t get out of bed.”

She said she was going to see a specialist in New York who had been treating her for the last year.

“They had to take me through the airport in a wheelchair,” she said. “I’m only 41. I’m on disability. I had to quit my job...”

THE SPIRITUAL BATTLE

“You’ve had a lot of losses in your life,” I said.

Despite all that had happened, she had a sense of peace about her. She laughed about having to take all the different pills, trying to keep things straight.

She was divorced. She had a 14-year-old daughter. Her parents had moved into her home to help her.

“They are retired, and now they have to take care of me,” she said. “I’m a single mom…”

Her voice trailed off.

“I’m used to being the one who takes care of people,” she said.

She mentioned how it was “humbling.” She felt like a child at times.

Then she began to talk about all the people who have helped her.

“There’s a spiritual battle for all of us between being grateful for what we have and resentful for what we’ve lost,” I said.

She talked about that in her own life, how it’s so easy to dwell on negative.

WILL YOU PRAY?

A couple of times she mentioned how she was “embarrassed” by her speech and slurring words.

“But you’re not doing that now,” I said.

“That’s because I’m going slower,” she said. “I’m more careful.”

“Not a bad idea,” I said. “Proverbs 10:19 says, ‘Where words are many, sin is not absent.’ I’m a writer, and I keep telling myself that.”

She thought that was very funny. She said the doctor in New York was helping her.

Soon we were going to land in Charlotte, both of us changing planes.

I kept hearing the voice saying, “Pray with her.”

But I wondered if she was mad at God for what had happened to her. Or if she would be angry if I even brought up prayer.

“Do it,” I heard.

So I softly said, “Do you want pray.”

She nodded.

I put my hand on her shoulder and quietly began to pray for her trip. She took my hand and squeezed.

The prayer last only a few moments, praying for the people helping her, the people treating her.

“Thank you,” she said. “I needed something like this.”

“We all do,” I said.

AP RADIO
Update hourly