Listening closely to the RN’s hushed request, I glanced down at my uniform to see it was clean, crisp and fresh. Like somehow, that would matter. The room appeared darkened, with all curtains drawn. What, behind this door would be the level of intensity, now all too familiar, even for my brief nursing experience? Calmly opening the door, my senses absorbed the scene within.
She sat on the edge of his bed, rocking in slow rhythmic circles to inaudible cadence. Long dried of tears, briefly looking up at me, her silent eyes screamed beneath her tussled hair. Traces of faint daylight squeezed through draped edges of the windows. In two steps I sat a few feet from her on the day bed. Quietly breathing, occasional routines muffled through closed doors, filtered into our space. We sat, we breathed, and waited.
Slowly, accommodation revealed swaddling white lumpy blankets and tiny tufts of blond. Her arms, trembling from hours of resisting, relaxed in renewed strength. Her encircled embrace, sheltering precious dreams, allowed a free left hand for softly stroking silky hair. Her face, partially hidden by her precious bundle, glowed soft in dim light. She never looked away.
Eventually, my imagination strayed, and quickly jumped into doubt and fear. What right did I have to be here? In sacred rituals of ancient people, only those specialized appointed souls were permitted access to such private encounters. Where would there be a wealth of powerful words and offerings worthy of my presence? How could I administer purposeful delegation of tangible value when there was no preparation? Her shifting of positions awakened me from my dream state. My focus returned with each heartbeat as the gift of humanity began kindly quieting my thoughts.
Together, welcomed only by the passing time, we lived there in this room. What thoughts, memories, hopes, dreams or fantasies had once existed here? Reaching into an abyss of questions, my only answer was to remain present. Despite my racing thoughts, my heart was stilled. My relief at her acceptance of my invasion began to strengthen my ability to act, by doing nothing. It would bring no one comfort now, to announce some benign task requirement. To enlist some formal offering of well intended words, felt grotesque and cruel. Pretending anything but being numbed by this reality, seemed insensitive and calculating.
Mechanical ticking of a clock on the wall pulsed with phony certainty as time ground monstrously past us. Never once weakening, never once, acknowledging our presence upon its inescapable equality. Eventually, it felt like we became as one. As if beings, in electric form, we maintained a balanced energy between us. My heart ached for her as I lived in her grief. Incomprehensible sadness painted each pixel before me. Life vibrated within me in circulating waves of acceptance. Each moment was becoming more vivid in clarity, as I honored them with my silence.
Suddenly, almost as if on secret cue, we simultaneously sighed. Looking deep into my soul, she smiled. I said, “I bet you have to pee?” My words slid from my vocal cords with a shocking unedited ease. She nodded in quick embarrassed relief while looking down at her child. “Let me hold him for you.” Without hesitation, she gently placed her son in my open arms and walked calmly over and opened the door. Tears dripped freely from my face as the RN who had requested my visit, entered the room and thanked me.