The Trade, Chapter 11

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The touch of the ER nurse’s hand gently brought Ruth’s thoughts back to the present. As she opened her eyes, her ears also became reengaged with her current surroundings and she realized the nurse, with her eyes closed, was praying for her. “Father God,” she heard her whisper, “have mercy on this dear child and heal her broken body. Provide the blood that she needs and guide the doctors’ hands. In Jesus’ name I ask that you put your loving arms around her and draw her to yourself.”

When the nurse opened her eyes and saw Ruth staring at her she gave her a motherly smile and said, “Honey, do you know how much God loves you?” But before Ruth had a chance to answer, the nurse turned from her as the rumble of an old hospital bed being wheeled into the ER and the voice of an orderly grabbed her attention.

“We have a donor!” he announced. “Found him down the street. Very eager to give. Probably wants to try and make up for his crime,” he sneered as he raised the back of the empty bed.

The nurse shushed him as she peeked around the curtain to see a rather distinguished-looking man seeming quite out of place in his orange prison garb, walking slowly down the hall towards the ER, hands and feet shackled and a prison guard holding his elbow. “He’s not dangerous,” the guard said as they approached the bed. “Just want to make sure he doesn’t escape.”

As the orderly helped the inmate get comfortable on the bed, and the guard removed his handcuffs, the nurse thanked him for his willingness to give. Rubbing his wrists, he smiled and nodded, then put his arm where it needed to be before she even had a chance to direct him. Knowing how valuable his O negative blood is, he had given many times before.

Once she had him all hooked up and a good drip going, the nurse turned her attention back to Ruth. “Now that we’ve got some blood for you, hon, we’re going to take you in for surgery. The doctors have been ready and waiting, and they’re gonna’ fix you up,” she said reassuringly, though her eyes conveyed a concern Ruth couldn’t help but notice.

In barely a whisper, and with an earnestness that she had never felt before, Ruth touched the nurse’s hand and said, “I don’t know how to pray.” The nurse gently put Ruth’s hand in hers and began to pray for her while Ruth listened carefully, the pain in her chest increasing as her heart seemed to throb and convulse with the surge of emotions…fear, sorrow, hope, and love. Love for this nurse who obviously cared about her, and a renewed love for her father who had done so much for her and whom she had so badly wronged, and may never see again.

Someone else was listening as the nurse appealed to God for the life of her patient. On the other side of the curtain that protected Ruth’s privacy, the inmate was silently joining in prayer for her. When Ruth heard him say, “Amen” as she and the nurse opened their eyes, she noticed the nurse looking as startled as she was.

“Thank you,” Ruth said to her. “And would you open the curtain so I can thank him?”

“Sure, honey,” she said with a warm smile. The nurse slowly and deliberately pushed back the thin but opaque divider as if she were revealing a hidden treasure, smiling as she did at her nameless prayer partner. But as she moved out of the way so that the blood donor and donee could see each other, she nearly fell over in astonishment at what she heard.