Hospital Life: Two Thoughts
Reflection Number One
It's been about a year or more, I think, since I reconnected on Facebook with someone who was in my second grade class, and in many other classes as our group progressed through from kindergarten through 12th grade. I'm going to call her "Joan" (though that isn't her name) and I re-"met" her when a zealot began a page in opposition to the tearing down of our ancient elementary school. She sent me a friend request, I accepted, and that pretty much was that. We occasionally "like" each other's posts, but never progressed to the point of "Why don't we go to lunch?"
When I look back on my school years, I was happy through fifth grade. My sixth grade teacher didn't make much effort to discipline the class and a nasty classmate, Barbara, picked on me mercilessly. I was a complete outcast. The teacher allowed the students to arrange the desks in banks; there were two banks of six for the girls and Barbara didn't want me or one other girl anywhere near her group. So we were apart and alone. I was the youngest person in our grade of fewer-than-ninety students, youngest physically, emotionally, chronologically, and developmentally. That year was a horror for me and the three years of junior high weren't much better. I was lonely, insecure, and picked on until we reached high school where there were many, many more kids and I found a niche.
A few weeks ago when I came to work at the hospital, as is my custom, I went through the alphabetical listing to see if anyone I knew -- either personally or as a patient previously -- was admitted. There was Joan's name. I hadn't seen her in 53 years. I had no specific memories of Joan's having been mean to me, but I was still a little uncertain as I approached her room. Immediately she said, "THERE you are! Come give me a hug! I knew you worked here but I didn't know how to have you come visit!"
We spent more than half an hour together. She was sick with an infection, but not uncomfortable, and glad of a visitor. We rehashed old times, shared snippets of our lives since graduation, remembered horrible teachers, caught up on what we knew of classmates. We had a good visit.
I left Joan and got to thinking. I found I had good memories after all, including Joan and her sidekick "Linda," and several other kids who had never been hurtful to me. They had been quiet, perhaps intimidated by Barbara the Bully, or perhaps just preoccupied with their own difficult adolescent lives. Of course Joan thanked me for coming to visit her. But she had no idea what she had done for me in return -- caused me to re-evaluate 50+ years of painful memories only to find there were good ones intertwined here and there.
Reflection Number Two
I love the work I do at the hospital. It is a real privilege to be part of people's lives when they are in the midst of crisis. A lot of my work is supporting families of trauma patients; they really need someone who can just listen to their pain and their fears, and the rest of the trauma team surely has no time to do that.
My friend Karla is my personal prayer champion. She tells me frequently that she prays for my work in the hospital, and I know she isn't just saying so. One night I left the on-call room to go to a particularly sad situation. As I waited for the elevator just outside the room, I noticed a pretty quilt hanging on the wall with appliqués related to this particular hospital. For some unknown reason, when I looked at that quilt that night, I remembered that Karla had been praying for me and that I wasn't going to the situation alone.
Almost every situation begins with my catching that particular elevator. And I've made a permanent mental link between that quilt and Karla. I go off to see the patient knowing that I'm not going alone. God goes with me, and so do Karla's prayers.