Tuesday, November 11, 2014

I Know a Nurse Like This...

At a recent meeting for directors of religious education, our spiritual leader asked for us to focus on the Eucharist and how to teach the children the gift of it, the gift of Sacrifice which they need to understand in order to realize the ultimate gift and example that Jesus gave and showed us on the Cross.

One of the DREs made the observation that, as a whole, American children do not know or understand what sacrifice is. They (we) haven't had much practice with that concept.

On a day when we are remembering our military veterans (and their families) and the sacrifices they made for our country and I am forever grateful for my dad and brother (Army), my father-in-law (Navy), my brother-in-law (Coast Guard), my nephew (Marines) and my uncle (Green Berets) and so many other family relatives who have served and sacrificed...

...today I am thinking of another relative who is learning the gift of Sacrifice in a 21st century way.

She shared this post the other day...

I Wish I Could Cry with You, But I Can't

She's one of the strongest people I know.

And she's my daughter.

In a phone conversation with her father last night, our registered nurse shared that she has begun training for a potential Ebola outbreak...incase...just in case...someone enters their hospital with this intruder.

Because she does not have children yet, she would be one of the first called upon to minister to an Ebola patient.

I'm often left in awe that I co-created this child...this person...this woman. Her father and I. With God.

She's such an individual.

She was the child I was told I had created nine months before I planned to even think of creating.

She was the child I almost lost and spent a agonizing week in bed with severe bleeding...with a two year old running around the house.

That she is here is a mystery...and a blessing.

I see her father in her. Her daddy says she's just like me.

But she's not.

My family will tell you in a heartbeat that I am not the family nurse. My husband has reckoned my medicinal knowledge and administration there of to tending a garden of failed plants: "It's a good thing you don't take care for our children the way you take care of our plants."

True...I see the similarities at times...the bluntness, the twitch of the mouth, the curtain being drawn. In many ways she is like me. She moves fast and she serves hard. We steel ourselves against the inevitable and we get the job done. But we wear a mask.

Those are the things I like least about myself so I see them most pronounced. They are the things that are probably necessary yet the very things I wish I could change.

She's so much more than I am. She may have some of my edges, but she's learned how to smooth them out.

In normal, everyday conversation she might mention a patient vomiting blood all over her, apologizing the whole time she tries calming him while placing towels under or about him while dealing with anxious family members or about a drug addict cursing her out or loosing another patient to cancer; but rarely. Mostly, she doesn't bother anyone with her sorrows. Instead she sits and allows the person talking about their failed deadlines or undelivered mail or spilt milk with as much respect and understanding as though that were the most important sacrifice on earth. Because she knows in their world, it is.

In reading this article, for a moment, I get to walk down the hospital hallway with her, seeing and feeling as she sees and feels. Probably because we're more alike than I ever knew.

She uses her hands to medicate the body.
I use my words to medicate the soul.

I know the sensitive side that others may never see. The side that calls for curtains being drawn. I've seen a wall go up at times when we're all sitting around the kitchen table because I know she can't allow herself to go there. She feels things like I do but we have two different ways of handling them.

She speaks hospice to the anxious.
I speak hospice to the searching.

She serves. And we don't know the magnitude of it until someone mentions it in passing us at the store or leaving church or on social media.

If she isn't working, she's simply there...to drive a younger sister somewhere, to keep watch at a hospital not her own, to cook a meal for her brother's family, to babysit a nephew, spend the night with a feeble grandmother, to cheer on a little sister's dance, to freely care for an unwed mother's little girl so she can work, to rescue a stranded friend, to hold a hand...

...or a baby.

And somedays I know she simply holes up in her little cottage and struggles to retrieve herself. That part I know she gets from me.

Cold? Unempathetic? Jaded?

Not at all. You have to read this article to understand: Wish I Could Cry With You. You have to read it to understand why some of us appear stand-offish and yet care more than we would ever care to admit.

Like me, sometimes she is just trying not to cry, because she can't. She can't go there. Can't go as deeply as I can. Because I am weaker. I don't even attempt to walk through those heavy doors.

The part of her that opens those doors and enters a world of sick and hurt is her father made over. I'm grateful God makes people like that. I'm grateful He made her. I'm grateful for people like my daughter who don't overthink sacrifice the way soul-healers (like myself) do; they are merely there to serve you when duty calls. To overthink that would leave them unable to suit up and walk through those heavy doors.

And when they pull open those doors? Most often you'll see them smile because they can't let themselves cry with you.

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