When Did I Stop Moving Furniture?

Driving home from the hospital, from time with my mama, I think over the last moments with her that day and ask myself, When did you stop moving furniture?

I don’t know.

Time alone and I gathered together so often when I was a teen, time I’d spend in my room, alone, rearranging furniture and cleaning, keeping my space tidy and comfortable. If I moved it just right, I’d create a cozy nook just for me.

Mama would come home from work, eye my room over, and say, “You’re going to hurt your back.”

Tidy and comfortable. Worth the risk.

A family member had an infection a year or so ago, and I didn’t go. I didn’t want to bring it home to a person with compromised health. Untidy; uncomfortable.

A family member went to the hospital, but I needed to stay home, because I couldn’t risk bringing COVID to dinner.

I hide away at home, in my safety. Stay home, I’m told.

And I ask myself on the way home: When did helping others become untidy and uncomfortable in your life, Shelli?

But somewhere along the way, things got out of sorts and I got really comfortable in the unforeseeable change. Somewhere … somewhere in the frightening news that my mama was terribly ill. She had MRSA, a staff infection of the blood, C.Diff, as well, which is very contagious. Pneumonia threw itself into the mix for good measure. So much untidy, uncomfortable.

Draped in the gown and gloves and mask, my body moves without thought to be with my mama. She’s so far gone that she can’t even say her name. The invitation slides out of my hands to anything, any disease that could harm me, bidding it to come alongside me, to bask in my tidy and comfortable, because all I care about is how can I keep from hurting her? What does it matter if I’m safe? How can I keep her safe?

On the night at the hospital when I’m told Mama can have no more visitors, after sharing that room when I can for a month with her, I draw near to her and hug her, tears pouring, and I tell her I love her and that I need her to keep fighting, that I need her to pull through this.

“I will,” Mama promises.

Dread seeps into my soul through the wee morning hours … what if in hugging her, I drew too near, I hear … what if you’re carrying COVID, Shelli, and don’t know it? What if you’re sick and don’t know it? What if you give her a virus that kills her in this weakened state? And worry deprives my weary body of sleep.

While each nurse stepped into Mama’s room with caution, when she initially moved to rehab, I wore no protective gear except my mask, and I sit there telling my mama why I won’t lower my mask. “The thought of getting you sick,” I say, through tears, “is more than I can bear.”

“Oh, honey,” Mom says, in that tone that tells me her only concern is my worry.

And as the hour strikes for me to leave, visiting hours coming to a close, I search the flowers on the darkened shelves. Because finding the lovely in the unlovely is how one thrives in survival mode. Unlike the hospital room, the mourning windowsill at rehab is too narrow to hold them, too thin to shower them with light, so empty. My vision lands on the solitary bedside table, which has no remarkable use, only covered in chocolate Ensure. And I know what I need to do.

“I’ll move the table,” I say, with a smile. “Do you think they’ll mind?”

“I don’t see why,” says my mom.

From one side to the other, I move, tugging along the hunk of wood without rollers, inch by inch, over my toe, with barely a flinch from me, trying not to scrape the floor. Because I’ve never had a more brilliant idea. And there the bulk of the three-drawer chunk lands, between the chairs, centered in the window. The arrangements, incredibly still hanging on to life, line up perfectly in Mom’s view from the bed, the bright floral colors backed by her get-well cards.


Mama’s smile overrides mine, as the flowers bask in the sun. “If we’re here long enough, we’ll rearrange the whole room,” she says, and we laugh together. Her face tilts, her thoughts off in another place somewhere. “I wonder if I’ll ever sing again,” she finally shares with me.

“You could sing ‘Jesus Loves Me.’ “

Slowly, our voices lift, together, until “the Bible tells me so.”

“Thank you,” she says. “I couldn’t do this without you.”

“I’d never want you to,” I say.

And there, moving furniture, my heart glows like it’s been sprayed with everlasting Pledge—and still does as I retrieve Ibuprofen at midnight for my aching shoulder—because it’s there … where the messy and uncomfortable becomes tidy and comfortable.

Are you finding yourself willing to take a risk during difficult days? Love will do it. Love brings courage.

(By the way, that table does have a use. It’s for holding the phone and nurse call button/TV controller when the patient gets out of bed. And we have laughed about this every day since. And Mama is improving daily. She stood up from the bed to the walker for the first time.)

Update: After my mom came home from the hospital, we lost her to a stroke in August 2020.

22 thoughts on “When Did I Stop Moving Furniture?

  1. This and you two are beautiful. Yes, I understand about taking risks because love won’t let you risk not loving and protecting someone who is in a vulnerable place. Remembering who steps into the dangerous places with us enables us to put on bold, brave love.
    Hooray for your mom’s first time standing since her recovery began. Praying.
    Blessings & hugs to you and yours ~ Wendy Mac

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wendy Mac, thank you so much for continuing to pray for Mom and our family. It’s been a long road. She seems to be doing fine at the hospital, and there is talk that she might come home this week. We are praying for no more setbacks. “Remembering who steps into the dangerous places with us” … yes. Love you, friend.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh Shelley, this is so how I’ve been feeling. When did we decide the risk of being close to others in need (with a hug, a touch, a smile) wasn’t worth the joy and healing that touch, that gesture, that look can bring? These days I worry more for our mental and spiritual health than for our physical bodies. Thank you for sharing. And so thankful your mom is improving! Love you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sarah, I so agree with you. We need each other. Mom’s in the hospital now and can’t have visitors, but God has blessed with her sweet nurses who’ll seem to go to the moon and back for her. I’m so thankful. We are hoping that she is able to come home this week. There’s been much talk about it. She’s so ready to get home. Thank you for all your prayers. We feel them.


  3. authorlaurafrantz

    Dear Shelli, This post speaks right to the heart on so many levels. Your pictures are all beautiful but the one with your mom is so precious. I think about her often and pray for both of you, your dad, and entire family. Also the medical team. So thankful she’s better. She must be so strong! And we have a strong, overcoming Savior. Hallelujah!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Laura, thank you so much for continuing to pray for Mom and our family. She seems to be improving at the hospital, and she might be able to come home this week, barring no more setbacks. Love you so much.


  4. Elizabeth Ann. Aquino

    This was beautiful . You moved furniture because you allowed God. in.to control and He gave you peace. I love your mother and so happy and thankful Jesus is healing her like we’ve been asking! God is good all the time . All the time God is good

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Carie Peyton

    This is sure a lovely story. I really enjoyed reading it. Your mom and family are in my thoughts and prayers 🙏. Pray the good Lord above gives you the strength you need as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Gail Veale

    I just reread your article in the July issue of Missions Mosaic, “When in Roam” & wanted to write you how much I enjoyed your piece. I read your latest blog about your mom & moving furniture. Very touching! My mom passed in May & visits were limited. Enjoy every minute with her & keep writing, you are impacting many!


    1. Gail, I can’t tell you how much this encouragement means to me. And I’m so sorry about your mother. It’s so hard not being there and doesn’t seem right on so many levels. I pray God has given your heart peace over it. Hugs to you.


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