The psych ward was freezing. Someone had cranked the A/C all the way up and overloaded a part in the HVAC system, and the part needed to fix the system was on order. What did that mean for us? That meant that, in our underwear and green paper scrubs, we were freezing to death, bone-chilled moment by bone-chilled moment. I phoned a dear friend of mine and her husband happens to be the Bishop right now. I mentioned that it was cold and she asked if her husband could give me a blessing. I told her that would be so kind if he could.
My friends showed up for the evening visiting hours with a forest-green and black with a cream highlight flannel shirt in hand for me to wear. I threw it on thankfully and gave both Barry and Erika a big hug each. We took over the phone room for the hour. Barry gave me a blessing and I talked with them as I warmed up in Barry’s flannel shirt. I felt so loved, so blessed (perhaps because I’d just been given a blessing), and so hopeful. I, for the first time in days, weeks, even months, felt actual hope. I had been having a spiritual crisis of sorts, but the presence of my friends, their love for me, and their willingness to come and be with me for that hour took all of that away. I told them I love them and they told me they love me, too. I consider them true family, and they inspired so much hope – the kind of hope that gives you your faith back – in their love and their time spent on me that night before the 4th of July.
That night, I had the best sleep I’ve had in months. That flannel shirt was like a big hug and I cherished the rest of the time that I got to wear it in the psych ward to keep warm. All I had to do was look at it and know that I was loved and blessed. It was amazing what taking care of a temporal need with the flannel shirt did for my ability to receive a spiritual blessing from my friend and brother, Barry. Erika, my dear friend and sister, has always visited when she’s been able to in the past. This was a special visit from the both of them, and it was a real turning point in my mental health and the state I was in. They even invited me over for dinner after I got out of the hospital. By that time, I had had time to wash the flannel shirt and return it to them. Sometimes, hope is found in a blessing and a flannel shirt.