I slowly walked past the patient room and caught a glimpse of her. She was gazing out the window with a fixed expression. She wasn't my patient, but something about her gaze stopped me from moving on. I leaned against the door frame and took in the sight of her. The neatly made hospital bed swallowed her frail, aged frame. Her long white hair was in a low loose braid, and the tail end of it draped her left shoulder. Elegant crooked hands were clasped and cupped the bulk of a black rosary.
My eyes swept the room. Her monitor registered stable vital signs. Sun spilled in from the large window and blanketed the floor, the bed table, and the end of her hospital bed. Books were stacked neatly on the bed table. A large, half-filled water bottle sat in the center of the table. Evian. The T.V. was off.
A movement from the woman drew my eyes back to her. She slowly and deliberately brought her rosary filled hands to her mouth and kissed the cross. As she did this my heart tightened. I didn't know what her mind was thinking, but the sight of this simple gesture caused me to enter her room. She looked at me with large blue eyes but with no change of expression. I went to her.
“Hello, I’m Bobbi. I am on this floor today as a Nursing Instructor for UMA, and I was passing by your room and just felt the need to come in. Is it okay if I sit with you for a moment?”
I watched my words register and a small smile tugged at the corners of her mouth. “Yes dear, that would be nice.”
She continued to hold the black rosary between both of her hands and rubbed the beads with her right thumb. “The sunlight coming through this window is amazing,” I remarked.
“This new hospital is pretty fancy,” She offered.
“Yes it is,” I said with a smile. She watched my face but didn’t speak. I probed, “How are you feeling today?”
I wasn't sure if I should stay…I didn't feel unwelcome, but I got the feeling I was intruding somehow.
I stood to go, “Well, I just wanted to stop in and say hello…something about the way you were staring out the window just caught my attention and I felt drawn to you. I will leave you to your thoughts. It was so nice to meet you.”
I watched her blue eyes fill with tears, “stay.”
I sat. I watched her gather her emotion and stuff it back inside. My heart was beating rather fast and I couldn't shake the feeling she needed me. My eyes watched the monitor register her pulse speed up and I waited.
She slowly began speaking in a soft, but strong voice, as she stared past me out the window, “I am alone in this world. I live alone. I eat alone. I pray alone. Oh I know that I am technically not alone because I have my faith and it does comfort me…but I am physically alone. I came to the hospital because I felt terribly afraid that I might die…today, at this very moment as we are speaking my husband and my only daughter died in a car accident 10 years ago.”
She let that hang in the air as she continued to stare out the window. One tear escaped her right eye and weaved down her lined face. Time seemed to stop as I watched that tear and silently prayed for guidance. The tear got trapped in a wrinkle and stopped by the corner of her mouth. She didn't wipe it. She sat there enveloped in the bed and just stared out the window.
I fought tears. I fought the urge to talk. I normally talk…I normally try to comfort people with words…But I felt God’s hand over my mouth. I just prayed for her pain. I waited, it seemed like hours passed by in that 2 minutes of silence.
She pulled herself out of the memory she was lost in and looked at me. “Do you have a family?”
As I told her of my family I watched her smile. We talked about family and some of her memories for quite some time. As I stood to go and check on my students, she reached her right hand out to me. I walked to her and took her hand. “You will never know how God used you today,” she tearfully whispered.
I smiled as tears of my own formed.
“I was silently begging God to send me someone to just sit with me as the moment I heard of the car accident approached. I didn't want to be alone…just this once as the memories crashed my soul.”
I couldn't hold the tears…they burst from my eyes and dumped from my cheeks. I couldn't speak.
I moved to her and sat on the bed, and then I hugged her. She hugged me back.
It’s a beautiful thing to know that you were used by God. Being a nurse has so many responsibilities attached to it. Let us not forget that we are first and foremost gifted with the responsibility to be human…to be a vessel of healing in ALL ways. I will never forget that woman nor will I forget those moments in time every year from now on as I will lift her up in prayer so she will NOT be alone. What a gift to be a nurse~ To be able to be present with a patient…