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What is this sound through day and night?
This eerie cry, this muffled moan?
Like an animal trapped alone
in distant darkened wood.
It does not stop, save brief respite,
to draw some breath, and then again,
unearthly groans with dreadful pain,
all day, all night.
What is this sound while lying here
that gives no sleep nor peace to ear,
while nurses move so unconcerned
between the beds and check the charts
and glance towards the blipping hearts?
They give the meds, and turn the lights
to signal now that time for dark,
and endless, restless, sleepless night
waiting for night’s dark to part.
The morning breaks, the ear awakes.
No sound at first, all peace at last,
and then that distant howl, again,
still trapped, still strained, still racked,
and tortured by some unknown pain.
"Nurse, what is that sound that I can hear?"
"What? That? That, my dear, is Julie.
She's had a stroke. So sad. She's very young.
There isn't any hope, not much that can be done.
Shut in a room, that's what you hear.
We don't want that noise disturbing ear."
And when at last I find my feet,
and nurse removes my tiresome drip,
and I can take a first short trip,
between the bed and bath,
and then to wander, a little more,
I wonder if I can find that door,
and what lies just behind, so still,
and cries, and cries, and cries.
I track the wounded animal sound.
I look around, I am alone.
I should not venture softly in,
but something deep, profound within,
compels this turning of the handle,
to open door, to peek at first,
then move towards the bed, a little more.
And closing door behind, I see her
lying still, her eyes awake the tv low,
yet shrill enough to cut her tiny peace,
left on all day, well meant by thoughtful nurse.
And Julie lies there, unable to say whether
flickering screen is for better, or for worse.
She is so young, and thin beneath the sheet.
She sees me, eyes follow, and then they meet.
And then at once I am aware, I do not know
why I am there, or what to say or what to do,
but strong compassion flows right through
my soul. So deep, so deep, beyond control.
"If you can understand," I say,
“blink once for yes and twice for no,
just so I know you hear me.”
And Julie blinked, quite clearly, once,
and now I know I can begin
the reason that I entered in.
"He knows your pain. He is aware.
It's not that Jesus doesn't care.
He's with you still and always will be.
Dear Julie, please, do not despair.
Her eyes are fixed, she doesn't move,
or make a sound. I gently touch her hand
and knowing not what else to do,
or more that might be said,
I slowly bow my head, and quietly close the door.
That day, while later lying on my bed,
amongst the clatter of their round
I’m hearing what the nurses said;
their comments on a missing sound.
"Julie's quiet. She can't be heard.
The first the ward is not disturbed.
What's happened? "
Their chatter indicates their wonder.
Why is it Julie screams no longer?
I do not know, I cannot say,
just how our Lord appeared that day
to comfort Julie's dreadful grief,
and take that fearful noise away.
But it is my certain sure belief
that all compassion was not my own,
but His alone to bring relief,
and usher in her quietened peace.
And that she and I will meet at last,
and I will know for sure,
just who it was, that awful day,
came softly through her door.
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