My dearest Nora, wherever thou mayst roam,
My heart is heavy once more, my dear, all from the plight of several patients with whom I crossed paths this weekend.
On Friday, I went with a group to an abandoned children's home to assist the nursing staff. All of the children have moderate to severe medical issues, and almost all of them showed up on the doorstep in the wee hours of the morning. What could possess a parent to do such a thing is completely beyond me.
The children were all so very sweet and excited to see all of us. There was an awful lot of laughter and smiling...the duality of the situation was a right mind-bender. Inside, I was torn to bits with sadness for these little guys who never have the chance to play ball in the park with their dad, go to the zoo with grandparents, and all of the other little things that I remember so fondly of my own childhood. Christmas, Thanksgiving... mercy. It was as if a tidal wave had struck me. Several times I caught my eyes going a little misty.
One kid in particular latched onto me. "You're my friend?" he kept asking. Each time I answered, I was a little more enthusiastic. In turn, he giggled a little more.
Despite being in a van full of cute, intelligent women on the way back home, I couldn't bring myself to say much. No one really did. The trip there was a wildly different story...I even traded numbers with one of them. Heh.
The next day at Big City Hospital, everything was really upbeat and pleasant for the first hour. I volunteered to go on many side quests for the nurses and met some lovely people along the way. The Nurse and I kidded each other a bit, and some of the techs who always tease me were in playful moods, as well. I'd not forgotten the children I'd met the day before, but I wasn't weighted down by those sad thoughts...it was their smiles and laughter that I was thinking about.
One of my favourite male nurses was working, which is always a recipe for a good time. Great sense of humour. We passed in the hallway and after a brief chat, he asked that I go visit one of his patients who was having a rather rough time of it.
I marched into all sorts of misery.
As the man was crossing a relatively tame two-lane street to his apartment complex, some soccer mom going at least 10 mph over the speed limit in her stupid SUV ran the red light and struck the poor guy. He was a pretty simple man in all meanings of the word. Hard-working, humble, man of few words... and quite lonely. Apparently, his family lives nearby, but no one had been in to visit. I can't imagine.
We talked for a little while and he asked if I'd mind sitting down and watching television with him. It was all I could do not to burst out crying. His story really got to me. He was so pleasant...how could his family practically abandon him in this way? I tried to reason that perhaps they were in a bad way financially and were unable to come because they were at their second or third jobs trying to stay afloat. I tried to think of anything.
Without making a conscious effort to do so, I went into overdrive trying to find ways to help him feel more at ease and that someone cares about him. It was another moment in the hospital in which I felt so damned helpless. I knew he appreciated what I was trying to do, but I don't feel like I broke through to him like I wanted. Ugh.
As my shift came to a close, he thanked me for spending time with him and asked if he'd see me the next day. I hated to tell him that I'm only there once a week. He seemed a little disappointed.
On the drive home, I began wondering if I should show up again for a while the next day. Maybe I'd send him a card, or some flowers, or something. Maybe anonymously. Maybe not. Undecided. I felt, and still feel, torn in two over the issue. I have a monster exam for which I'm currently insufficiently prepared and feel the need to work on rectifying that. The other side says that the exam is not nearly as important.
I think I'll think it over over a cup of tea.
May the grace of He keep you always,