To my nurse.
Past, future, and never before met.
I don’t pretend to know the ins and outs of your job, or the extremely long list of duties that end up falling under your job description on any given day.
I’m sure many of those duties you excitedly and knowingly signed up for, and that some of them feel like the kind of absolute torture you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy.
I doubt I could ever fathom the intense amount of physical, emotional, and mental strain this job causes you every day, and I can only imagine the range of emotions you feel on a day-to-day basis, often in one shift or even in one hour.
I would believe that absolute disgust can be immediately followed by sheer joy, and that blood-boiling anger can turn into gut-busting laughter when you simply walk into a new patient’s room or turn down a new hallway.
And while I’m sure you would like so many of us to better understand the difficult nature of your job, and the toll it takes on you personally, and sometimes even on the family you go home to, as one of your countless patients, there is something I need you to understand as well.
And it is this, sweet nurse:
I used to see you, amidst all the mundane tasks you have to carry out each shift and each day, and while I was of course in gratitude to your service, I didn’t truly see you.
Not all of you.
Because until I truly needed you in a way that couldn’t be noted on a chart or seen on a computer screen, I didn’t take the time to imagine how much more you are.
I didn’t realize that on top of the clerical and medical tasks you perform each day, you are often even more needed for a kind of emotional support that is difficult to put into words, and goes far beyond words of sympathy or messages of condolences.
For it is a nurse I had when having my D&C following my miscarriage that opened my eyes to all that you are in that regard.
Obviously, that day and procedure was not a pleasant experience, and I was understandably emotional, vulnerable, and quite frankly, somewhat numb.
Having said that, I was holding it together quite well.
She began with all my paperwork and verbal questions. She had to ask me to explain in my own words why I was there.
When I said “For a D&C following a miscarriage,” her face turned so sad, yet so warm.
She offered her condolences, and when she saw I was okay, she kept going. She went on with mundane questions, and my husband had to step out at some point to answer his phone.
While he was gone, she told me she had some hard questions. She began to ask me where I would like the baby’s remains to go if they were able to salvage anything.
And I just crumbled. With every ounce of my being, I broke.
And I have never seen a woman move so quickly in my life.
She climbed on my bed with me and took me in her lap, crying with me for several minutes and holding me as she wiped my tears, and then we prayed.
She was a complete stranger and a complete angel. She was the mother I needed when mine couldn’t be there, and in that moment, she was everything to me.
And she was my nurse.
And while our paths only crossed for a mere half an hour, she made a lasting impression on me that day that she likely doesn’t even realize.
And though I don’t even know her name, I can picture her in my mind’s eye even five years later.
At a time when I was struggling to find any good in the world, she was a reminder of true kindness, empathy, and the human spirit.
And because up until that point, I had luckily not had any truly traumatizing or dire experiences in my medical history, it was fortunately (and unfortunately all at the same time) my first time truly seeing a nurse.
So since then, sweet nurse, I see you. All of you.
And I thank you.
For taking my blood pressure, yes, but moreover, for the countless patients you’ve embraced, cried, and prayed with and for, celebrated, mourned, and lost all vulnerability with and just “been” with when they needed it most.
I see you, my nurse, and I’m in awe.