Fellowship of Sighs

It's the eyes that reach out at first. A brief glance that stays on a little longer followed by a nod. It's a glance that wants to say something more but at that singular moment words seem useless and unnecessary, and thus, there's a sigh that seems to last forever followed by a hand raised upward as if in prayer.

Allah Karim

The word literally means, God is most generous and that remembering Him draws out wonder, praise, thanks and joy. Here in the intensive care unit of the hospital where we are, it also means a cry for help, a cry of helplessness, a cry of complete surrender to God's kindness and generosity in turning the situation around. Perhaps in ways that will demonstrate God's mercy in hearing our prayer for healing our loved ones and restoring them to good health.

Allah Karim

We all say it as if by impulse but never as a second thought. We want to mean it and believe in it and see for ourselves that the health of our loved one is not determined by what the monitor says but by a greater hand whose power brought creation into being by a mere word.

Could you do the same for us now, O Lord, and speak your life into this situation.... and please, please, please heal our mother soon!

The desperation is there but we conceal it somehow because there are others around who may falter when they see us falling apart. We don't want them to feel weakened or discouraged but want to do everything in our power to encourage them and provide some ray of hope.  It'll be ok. Don't worry, it's just a matter of time and we'll be back home... like normal.

If truth be told and if we really have to scratch the surface, it gets painfully clear that the only reason we want to conceal this desperation is because we don't want anyone to see us in this sad, pathetic and vulnerable state. We want them to see us strong and capable of handling anything like Superman! We see even the slightest trace of vulnerability to be our kryptonite that will shatter the edifice we have created.

Somehow we feel that the moment we allow our emotions to be uncaged it might somehow affect the treatment and impede the speedy recovery of our loved ones.  It is this naive assumption that it is our resistance to bawl like babies that is keeping our loved ones alive... that it is this occasional sighing that is actually pumping the oxygen through the ventilator...helping our loved one to breathe and live. Just to make sure that this strategy works, we mix our sighing with prayers along with helpful scripture verses for added impact.

The sigh becomes helpful in such a situation and could be therapeutic even, or so we like to think. We are worried that any emotion that indicates a different turn of events should be shunned at all costs. It is deliberate and willful even though there are some indicators that the situation may not end up the way we want it to be. However, like a starving peasant scrounging at every scrap of morsel thrown at us we pounce at every scriptural promise and hum any hymn that might strengthen faith and hope.

We feel this need for God so strongly because we realize that there are certain things beyond our control... beyond anything tangible that we could use to turn the situation around. If we had lots of money we could use its power to purchase good health and speedy recovery. If we had access to state-of-the-art healthcare and expert medical personnel we would use those resources to nurse our loved one back to health. If we had... if we had... and we realize that in a way we do have all of those things and yet somehow we are not seeing any change for the better.

A sigh is all that we have and the only thing that somehow makes sense. Our helplessness becomes nothing more than a precursor to surrender to whatever happens, to whatever God's will may be, however painful, however tragic, however unlike what we want things to be.

Allah Karim

We nod at each other and smile as if this slight curvature of our lips might serve as a balm. They do the same. We all do it even without thinking hard about it. We do it while placing our hands on our loved one and kissing their foreheads. We do it while we talk to the nurses and look at the monitors. We do it while they explain the prognosis. We do it while we walk back home and smell the air in the streets.

We do it while we close our eyes in prayer. Let your will be done.  Whatever it may be. Whatever the outcome. Whatever the future may hold.


Our sigh is a prayer and articulates what words cannot but right now it is the only way we can express something, anything. It is the silver lining for the dark clouds all around but it is also that whisper of a tiny thought that maybe, just maybe, the unimaginable might just be what our loved ones need at this time.

We sigh... because sometimes that's all we can do when we can do nothing else.


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