I’m sitting here at a computer in the hallway of my unit, Methodist Main 8 Northwest, finishing up my shift. I’ve had a sore throat since Sunday, swollen and tender glands since Monday, and a hacking, persistent cough since yesterday. It gets worse throughout the day, and by 8 p.m. I’m passed out in bed. I’ve had to be very careful to stay sterile here at work, although I don’t think I’m infectious.
Although I don’t feel very well, I want to say that I am thankful for my health, and the health of my family. Yesterday, a patient of mine died on my shift. This was a man who we all knew very well around here, because he has been with us for a few months. He loved the University of Texas. Just a few weeks ago, he was depressed not because of his condition but because UT lost to Texas Tech. He had a very supportive wife and grown children about my age. When he was assigned to me yesterday, I was scared because I knew he didn’t have much longer. He was gasping for breath all day long. Right at the end of the shift, they told me they thought he was gone. I went into the room, and although I knew it was true, I felt for a pulse anyway. His wife was looking at me expectantly. I whispered to her, “I don’t feel anything,” and she just nodded and put her head down. His lips were white. His hands were cold. There was no more struggle in him.
As I watched their family console each other, how could my mind not jump to my own family? To my own new husband, who I love more than anything in the world? I immediately wrote him an email to tell him that I will love him forever, and the most important thing is that he always knows that. There is a friend of a friend whose blog I read who lost her husband in a boating accident two years ago tomorrow. Today, she reflects on their last moments together. It is a beautiful and sad story, and it makes me want to hold onto my husband forever, but mostly it fills me with love for him.
My job is a calling and a ministry, but sometimes it is a very very sad place to be. But I am grateful that every day it gives me perspective, and I pray that I will never forget this first death, and how my heart broke and I cried, and how tightly David held me when I got home.