Walking away with dignity


In the dark bedroom lit by the moon, husband slumbering deep, I am awake. There is a scissors on the dresser and I am thinking of thick scarlet blood running. I worked at a job for 11 weeks, and I am still acclimated to working through the night. The noose tightens again, my throat constricted, thoughts impulsive and sin filled. One of the hardest lesson you have to learn as a caregiver is that people live and die without you. There was a time when I was a new nurse when I didn't understand this. Realizing you are not God is difficult, especially when you're young. God granted me special talents with my hands - the ability to find arteries hiding, to slide plastic IVs into tender, ropy veins, a sixth sense when danger was near. I had to learn that other nurses had the same talents. That I was just one in a vast army of people with the same gifts. That I was not the only person who could do what I did.

Facing the fact that you are not as unique as you think is difficult when you also know that God created you an individual totally distinct from every other human since or before. Yet all these people I've cared for, I've left at the end of the shift, however long. And their stories progressed on without me. I have to believe that God wanted me there on that unit for just 11 weeks, and that He doesn't need me there any longer. I was blessed to participate in saving two lives while I was there. Maybe that's just what He needed from this time. Maybe He just wanted to confirm for me that I haven't lost my touch. That I can still look deep into the eyes surrounded by the white of panic and see the person deep inside, connect with them, comfort them in those last moments of consciousness.

Adjusting to this - that I am no longer necessary there - while maintaining a sense of purpose for my existence is a difficult tightrope to walk. Those synapses that harness me to my own worth are tenuous and faulty, a suspension bridge with planks missing, planks that fell into the river of doubt deep below while I convalesced from the deepest and darkest season of depression and pain I've known.


I held his pink cheeks while his body was wracked with coughing fits today during naptime. I fall in love all over again with the blond spike, the dark chocolate eyes, the pearly row of baby teeth, the flush of sick little cheeks. It is my moment of worship, this day, holding this beautiful soul in my arms, the ache in my chest dissipating and the dreams of death diminishing. It is Christmastime, and I can't help but think of the Savior babe, the one Mary clung to, the miraculous birth that she trusted though she must have had premonitions that her Son was born not just for her pleasure but for the rescue of a fallen world. What must she have felt when she knelt beneath the cross, finally realizing that even Christ had to leave His place in our world? Never was a person so necessary. But sometimes it is through the sacrifice of all we hold dear, the bending to sovereign will much more important than our own, that is the greatest act of care a person could ever make. Walking quietly the path that is laid before us with the dignity of a soul that grasps Grace and forgives the calloused and sightless persecutor is, indeed, the most Christlike beauty.