“The trained nurse has become one of the great blessings of humanity, taking a place beside the physician and the priest.”
– William Osler
My wife is amazing. Seriously. At some point during high school she felt a tug in her heart to make a difference in the world; to serve people and show God’s love. For her this was embodied in the idea of being a nurse. So, after high-school she got into a great college for nursing and completed what is according to many, the most challenging bachelors degree in America. The work load, catheters, bed pans, and psych patients didn’t phase her, as she was soon hired at a hospital in Southern California.
Between the hours of 7:00 pm and 8:00 am she’ll be found running from room to room checking on her patients as they are nursed back to health. Some of her patients are crazy and some are endearing. Sometimes she has to help them go to the bathroom, and sometimes she is there when they go into “Code Blue”.
It absolutely blows me away that while I’m at home studying or watching TV, she’s there; dealing with pain, body fluids, brokenness, confusion, and everything in between.
Being there, in the most humble and intimate times, ever present in the frailty and vulnerability of humanity, she finds herself, night after night.
Divinely, she contemplates the story of each individual, as their family comes to visit, or sometimes is altogether absent.
Checking their paperwork, she dutifully tries her best to be fully present in the practicalities as well as the personalities.
Bravely, she deals with impatient patients, jaded doctors, and checked out staff.
Tirelessly, she cleans soiled bed-sheets, administers medicine, consults doctors, and answers countless questions.
Caught in the tension of seeing every person as just another name on a chart and the Imago Dei, she becomes prayer.
Is there another vocation as selfless as nurse? They are there in our lowest, in our sickest, in our least glamorous moments, and even in our last breaths. They do what is within their reach to ease our pain. They are tasked with the burden of listening, discerning, observing, and deciding.
To my wife and all my nursing friends, you have been given the most noble of jobs. You have the opportunity to care for people like no one else can. What is required of you in compassion, stamina, intelligence, sharpness, and love is like no other job. It is a thankless and often times gross way to make a living, but that is what makes it blessed. A nurse in other words, is simply a servant. Your relationships with your patients are one-way, self sacrificing endeavors. You are healers, listeners, dignity-givers, pain-relievers, advocates, and friends.
When I think about my own health, and its inevitable expiration, and when I reflect on the last days of loved ones under professional care, I am convinced that a nurse can be there for people like no one else can. Your job, while at times it may not feel like it, is nothing short of a divine calling.
Thank you for the inspiration.
One thought on “To my wife (and all other nurses)”
Thanks Chris! I have been a nurse for 20 years now and I don’t think I could have explained it any better.