Remembering Our Other Family on the Front Lines
Losing family members is hard. Long-lived lives that come to an end, distance that prevents relatives from remaining close, and estrangements following family squabbles are a few ways to lose family members, and it can be devastating. Yet we manage to pick ourselves up and go on with our lives, even if the loss is excruciating.
There is one family I have lost that I miss in a different way.
After spending months in a hospital, it starts to become like a second home. If you’re visiting a sick child, you will start to see the same faces each time you are admitted to the floor. “Visitors” will constantly come into your new “home” to check vitals, deliver food trays, and bring puzzles and toys to help your child pass the time while they are confined to their bed.
You might secretly hope to get one of your favorite nurses because they are funny and engaging. Maybe the charge nurse, who makes you feel safe, will be on duty. And the housekeeping ladies who come daily to take out the trash and mop the floor also are important because they bring a smile and warmth to your room as they work to take care of you.
When my son Caeleb was little, the nurses all knew what his favorite toy or game was every time we went to the hospital. One season, his favorite was Thomas the Train. During another, his favorites were Minecraft and Ninjago. There was never a time when a Lego creation was not part of his world. Doctors and nurses would even help Caeleb build some of his Lego creations.
One amazing nurse came in regularly to measure the circumference of Caeleb’s swollen knee to monitor internal bleeding. But before she measured his knee, she insisted on measuring his biceps. Not only would she make a big deal about how much his muscles had grown, she also would record the measurements on the whiteboard for everyone to see. Now that is above and beyond.
I miss these amazing people. I know I shouldn’t want to see them because that would mean that Caeleb needs serious medical attention. But they became part of my life. They were part of my family, and we shared stories that only family members share with one another, whether they were having babies, getting married, or sharing the antics of their grandchildren.
I think of them often during this COVID-19 pandemic, and I pray that they are safe and healthy while caring for those who need their help. To the nurses, technicians, housekeepers, doctors, and cafeteria workers, I send you my love and best wishes. You are always in my heart, and I hope I don’t see you soon.
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