Carly came into this world crying. Eight pounds and seven ounces of perfection. When I tried calming her the doctor said, “It’s good she cries. She’s getting fluid out of her lungs.” Her life began at the hospital.
My coworker Paul died Monday. We weren’t besties, yet Paul had a quiet wisdom and subtle humor that made him feel like you were close. Paul taught us to eat the whale that is projects – one bite at a time. He was brilliant, funny, and calm. He fought cancer, and like the bitch it is, cancer won. Paul left this world at a hospital.
We eat in the cafeteria, chat in the halls, park in black lots, and swing the bathroom doors. Patients come to the hospital for baby checks, blood tests, surgery, ear aches and trauma. Family members visit to offer support and love. Doctors, nurses, clerks, admins, support staff and thousands of others make the hospital work.
Today, I drove on a site visit with a few RNs. One has delivered babies for 26 years. Another nurse started in surgery working nights – just so she could eventually transfer to the mother/baby floor. The third RN is from bereavement. When a baby dies, she supports the grieving family.
And me. Here I sit in the middle of it all. Running projects, making calls. It’s chaos and it’s busy.
Carly’s life started here. Paul’s life ended. For a few moments the strands of our lives intertwined. Together, we became more than just ourselves. We became a community. A hospital, in our city, is a life blood for the community. In connects to every facet of our lives.
I’ve never lost a co-worker before. I don’t know how this grieving muscle works. But I know where it begins, and ends, and that I’m somewhere in the middle… living.