It was early in the morning when she came into the room. She was wearing pink scrubs, a stethoscope around her neck. She smiled and nodded at me. I had been sitting in an upholstered chair in the corner. Sleep had not been possible. She was petite, with long brown hair tied back. So young, I thought.
She approached the hospital bed where my husband lay.
“Good morning, William. I’m Edith and I’m going to get you washed. It always makes me feel better when I’ve washed.”
As she worked, she kept up a one-way conversation in a soft musical voice.
It was of necessity a one-sided conversation. Three days before my husband had suffered a massive stroke. He could not move his right side, nor could he speak. He would have enjoyed speaking to her.
“There. I hope that makes you more comfortable. I’m going to take this out to the hall, and then I’ll be right back.”
She smiled at me again as she left the room.
My husband was receiving palliative care, which means that recovery was unlikely, and given his condition, death would arrive sometime soon. Within twenty-four hours he succumbed to pneumonia and heart failure.
In the months that followed, I often wondered how this young nurse and the others who attended my husband, could maintain their caring, respectful attitude; particularly when many of their patients would not recover. Surely, they must be physically and emotionally exhausted. It must be heartbreaking.
I did not and do not understand how they do it, but I am grateful.