At work, we did a monthlong celebration of nurses with an event where bigwigs shadow nurses. One VIP said “doctors heal your body, but nurses heal your soul.” Others really opened up about their moments of loss and got overclempt and it made me think of the role of nurses when my dad died.

We were lucky with our doctor, who was warm and reassured my mom that she took exquisite care of dad, but that he was dying. She bought us coffee. On the second or third day of dad definitely on his way out, she talked to us about what the waiting process might be like and mom noticed he had stopped breathing (she’s good at that). It made all the professionals in the room panic and they checked his pulse and told us to come forward. It was one of those rare times where my mom and cried at the same time.

Afterwards, we stayed in the room with him for a while. I had already begun funeral arrangements so there wasn’t much to do. We decided to go eat. Hospice called and I said “thanks you’re too late” but in a nice way, I swear. When I came back, it felt wrong to be in the same room as dad’s body. It was okay before, but after we had left for an hour or so to eat, it most definitely was not.

On my way out, a nurse, not even on dad’s case, stopped to say she was sorry for my loss and she choked up and talked about her dad. She said she feels him when she needed him. The good part is you feel their presence in your lowest moment, but that the bad part is you heal and their presence disappears. Both suck, she said.

We hugged. It was so profoundly kind of her to open up an old wound in order to comfort me.

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