Before nursing school, I was a volunteer on a med-surg floor at the University of Washington Medical Center. I was in the middle of taking my prerequisites to apply to nursing school and one of the requirements was to have 100 hours of volunteering. On the unit, I restocked linen and supplies, changed patients’ bedding, delivered food trays and water, and answered call lights. (Yes, for 100 hours of my life). They were simple tasks, but it gave me the opportunity to interact with patients.
One of the many busy nurses asked if I could change one of her patient’s linens while they were sitting up in their chair. I knocked on their door and was welcomed by an older man and his wife. The patient was an elderly man with a fresh, c-shaped sutured incision along the right side of his head. His wife was reading to him when I walked in. I asked if I was interrupting, but they didn’t mind my presence. I continued to change the bedsheets and realized that I recognized the words she was reading out loud.
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” – Psalm 23:4
She was reading the Bible to her husband as they held hands. It was the most beautiful and heartbreaking thing I have ever seen.
Today, before bringing back a child to the operating room a family asked if they could say a prayer. Without hesitation, I stepped aside and gave them a moment. It reminded me of not only my memory of the elderly couple, but made me realize how as a nurse… We experience these beautiful, yet heart-aching encounters day by day.
I’ve learned to not wallow in the sadness, but to take it as a reminder that life is precious and time is short – appreciate this crazy journey we all have a chance to embrace called life. God gives us our own battles, but He only gives us what we can bear. Although, the weight may feel overwhelming, it is all in God’s plan for something greater than you may think.