For those few regular readers who visit here, you have noticed I frequently mention my self-imposed writing assignment (my forthcoming book) which I have been working on for over three years. (It has a ways to go still, but I sense it is coming together and building up a steam these days.) However, I have not mentioned that I am already exploring another project.
While the previous work is still in revisions, redrafts, and rewrites, regarding Christian hospitality, I am already jotting notes for another project, this one shaping up to be a collection of love letters for my wife but with a twist. In this case, assuming it remains a collection of love letters and not morphed into some other style of presentation, deals with her work as a nurse, a nurse in the PICU particularly.
Such work takes a toll even on those who are “cut out for it.” I doubt strongly anyone should do that work for their whole career, but maybe some people can. Most people can’t handle the first bad day there.
Let me tell you something about the PICU they don’t put in the brochures: PICU is where kids go to die when they don’t die fast enough to suit EMS, the ER, or sometimes the OR. If you got a kid in critical condition, but kept alive on “life support” waiting for the legal process to decide when to “pull the plug,” PICU is where you send the child.
And while not every child winds up in that condition, and while of those who do, some are innocent accidents or illness, most of them wind up there in that condition due to child abuse. And a nurse THERE gets the task of holding the hand of that dying, broken, little body for however long it takes, sometimes accommodating the suspect/perp (since assigning blame is not a nursing task), and doing this with a professional attitude and demeanor, with composure and charity, for days on end.
How does a nurse cope?
Some wind up in psych facilities.
Some do all of the above.
My nurse plants a memorial garden (among other things (we adopt kids too, in case you didn’t put that together yet)).
The following is a copy of a few thoughts I have jotted down on the gardening notion:
Our Backyard Gethsemane
Our backyard has become an anonymous memorial garden with no plaques or tombstones. No one, except you, really knows our otherwise beautiful garden commemorates the dead – dead babies in particular. The lush green punctuated here and there with bright yellow, pink, orange, white, and lavender, speaks of life and peace, not pain and sorrow.
Only the nurse who plants this garden knows how really to read it. Each flower is like a Band-Aid on a bleeding heart, yet it whispers a name hidden by HIPPA laws in a hushed tone so quietly only angels and nurses hear it. Manure piles bring forth life in God’s alchemy. There is an invisible bee line from the PICU to this Garden of Gethsemane.
Jesus comes to the garden in the cool of the day to walk with the children and the nurse. He sweats great drops of blood and prays there as lawyers and politicians fall asleep. But the nurse plants lilacs and keeps watch as the life force of God and innocence is betrayed with a fist, and he assures us he will make this right again.
She’s a nurse, a healer, and this is the only medicine left after the end of the walk holding the hand of the dying child. It is impotent medicine. Sugar water. It is the placebo, the fake pill. But it’s all we got.
Don’t belittle it, though. It won’t save a life in the PICU, but if you offend it, you might as well punch an angel in the face or a nurse in the gut.
This isn’t hope. This is hope against hope. It’s not wishful thinking; it’s love after it’s too late. And God, you do believe in God (right?), is God after it’s too late. In fact, that is his specialty, because when God is God after it is too late, THEN you know God.
I will quit with that. Just a teaser. IF you find this excerpt is good for you, feel free to leave an encouraging word. I hope to develop this project too, and hopefully find my way into more meaningful publishing than just blogging for two or five friends.