You have seen photographs of the sun taken during a total eclipse. The corona fills the print. All of those photographs were taken through telescopes. The lenses of telescopes and cameras can no more cover the breadth and scale of the visual array than language can cover the breadth and simultaneity of internal experience. Lenses enlarge the sight, omit its context, and make of it a pretty and sensible picture, like something on a Christmas card. I assure you, if you send any shepherds a Christmas card on which is printed a three-by-three photograph of the angel of the Lord, the glory of the Lord, and a multitude of the heavenly host, they will not be sore afraid. More fearsome things can come in envelopes. More moving photographs than those of the sun’s corona can appear in magazines. But I pray you will never see anything more awful in the sky.
"As soon as I saw it and read it, I posted it to our unit's Facebook page. I said this is something we need to do," Chapman said. "I'm fortunate that I work with around 50 really good nurses and they are always willing to help and go out of their way to do things. I knew if I posted it on our unit's Facebook page that we would have volunteers. I just didn't know how many."
At wit's end and wanting so desperately to bring Dee home, Jerry put a classified ad in the Evansville Courier & Press. However, before the ad was featured in the Sunday paper, Jerry's plight caught the attention of editor Tim Ethridge. Ethridge detailed the couple's plight.
Within an hour of the story being posted, Jerry had dozens of calls.
"I wanted a soldier but I ended up getting an entire army," Jerry said.
Jody and his wife Kim were among the first to call.
"My heart is so full of love for [Jody] because even before he knew who it was, he told me to call, call, call," Kim Sutton said.
Jody, a nurse working in the anesthesiology unit, helped take care of Dee before she had a feeding tube installed in her stomach. Prior to administering the medicine, he told her to think of the happiest dream she could. She said she'd dream about being home with her five puppies.
That short conversation stuck with him, Jody said.
"You can't listen to Jerry and Dee's story and not be touched. It's the deep love in marriage that most people aspire to yet most people fail to attain," Jody Sutton said. "[Jerry] placing the ad was courageous."
"This has been a love story that has been amazing to bear witness to," Kim Sutton said. "The love that he has for her and the love that she has for him... it's been amazing to watch."
For Jody, the reasons for volunteering his time and money to Dee's care were personal. For Chapman, it was just the right thing to do.
"I don't have any deeper reason than that," Chapman said. "Jerry's conviction helped my conviction. I've never done anything like this before. One of the things in the ICU every day is death. A nursing home or a hospital is not where people expect to have their final days. For him to have enough passion to do his best to have her home, someone had to help."
More than forty nurses answered the call, helping to provide hospice care for Dee at no cost to Jerry. They provided care for Dee and counseling for Jerry, even as reality began to sink in.
"It just really hit me. I know I'm going to lose her for sure," Jerry said after Dee had been home for a couple of days. "I never went past the point of getting her home. It was getting her home to die but I never paid attention to that. I just wanted her here."
They treated the Lawrences as if they were their own family members. One nurse even sang to Dee in quiet, hushed tones.
"Isn't that the sweetest thing?" Jerry said.
For two weeks, day and night, the nurses provided the most compassionate of care. By that point, the Valentine's Day roses that Jody bought for Jerry began to wilt.
And so did she.
"I feel an emptiness. It started at 11:35 today," Jerry said.
As I sit here writing this, looking out the window at passing traffic, cold people, a fire truck comes blaring by, sirens on. An ambulance follows. My gaze here—my train of thought, too—is interrupted. Back to regularly scheduled traffic programming. Two minutes later another fire truck blows by, moving fast. These vehicles are en route to intervention. A home might be on fire. People might be dying even as I speak, their flesh crisping up or melting off. It could be a false alarm. If I were a real investigative essayist, or journalist, I'd be up and in my car, on their trail, trying to dodge the resuming traffic, hoping to see something exciting or terrible.