I received this email from a friend of mine who is also in healthcare, and wanted to share it with my fellow nurses. Some of you may have read it before.....
Finding Your Easter Sunrise
There is a stopping point in the North Carolina mountains
called Pretty Place. Pull off the main road and follow a dirt
one to a clearing and there stands an open-air chapel on the
side of the mountain. Simple concrete benches encompass a stone
pulpit. The area is open on all sides so you can see the breath-
taking beauty of the scenery. There is a feeling of reverence
about the place. People talk quietly, as though in church, in
this wonderful place of solitary reflection.
At Easter time about twenty years ago, a group of friends
and I decided to attend the sunrise service at Pretty Place. I
had always wanted to go but never managed. I was an Emergency
Room nurse and had to work on this particular Easter Sunday too,
but worked it out to go to the service, and then go to work my
shift. We got up about 2:00 a.m. to make the drive to Pretty
Place. We arrived in the dark, parked, and proceeded toward the
chapel. A huge gathering of people collected in and around the
chapel. In darkness, a simple nondenominational church service
was held including a hymn, a prayer and a short message.
I was content just to sit and enjoy the tranquility, the
smell of earth and pine, and feel the coolness of the morning
air on my skin. I heard the birds and the sounds of the woods
around us and enjoyed the pleasure of being with my friends. The
sky lightened as the day broke and a glowing orange ball began
to appear as if it was rising out of the earth. One minute there
was a gray canvas and the next, a glowing sphere of orange,
yellow, pink rose filling the sky. Then, more quickly than they
had come, the crowd took their leave to return to the real
world. I headed for work.
I arrived feeling peaceful and ready for the day. The ER
was quiet too. Since there were no patients, I began cleaning and restocking.
I heard the familiar announcement, "patient in the hall"
and then the sound of a man's voice calling for help in
desperation and panic. I entered the hallway to see a man
carrying a small, limp, breathless child. Traces of blood and
discoloration smeared one side of her pale face. No other wounds
were visible. The man handed me the little girl, dressed in a
frilly dress, lace-trimmed socks, patent leather shoes, and a
crushed Easter bonnet. His words spilled out. He couldn't see
her when he backed the family van out of the driveway. She was
dressed and ready for church. She saw her daddy leaving. She ran
behind him. She only wanted to go with her daddy.
I rushed her into critical care leaving the father in the
hallway. Someone would come shortly to get him to fill out the
paper work and show him to the family waiting room - not the
usual waiting room, but the small, softly-lit, private waiting
room where families and friends await bad news and pray
desperate prayers for the lives of their loved ones.
As the call of Code Blue went out over the hospital
loudspeaker, a team gathered to do all that was possible to save
this child. Her Easter clothes were cut away and she was
intubated. We began CPR, started an IV, and gave her drugs to
attempt to restart her heart and lungs. It soon became obvious
her neck was broken. We continued to resuscitate her, doing
everything within the power of man and medicine. We couldn't
give up the life of this small child. There is a knowing, an
intellectual process that says there is nothing to do, but the
heart often pushes us beyond this knowledge to try anyway. So try we did.
After the hopeless resuscitation ceased, I slowly removed
the tubes with tears in my eyes, a huge lump in my throat, and
heaviness in my chest. We took care of the details of preparing
her body for death and for her family to see her. The Emergency
Room doctor went to the family room. His words to the father
would start with, "Your little girl is dead. There really was
nothing we could do, but we tried." He would talk, trying to
explain what had happened. He would listen for a little while to
give the father a chance to begin to verbalize how he was feeling.
The cry we heard coming from this man as he was given the
news still touches me at the core of my very being. Some of us
have experienced the misfortunes in life that enable us to
understand the pain and loss this man must have felt.
It's been twenty years since that Easter Sunday. I am
married now and have four children of my own. I traded in the
job of being a nurse for that of being a full time mother and
homemaker. Not an Easter has passed since that I do not remember
that little girl in the arms of her father on that Easter
Sunday. I can always recall the pain and agony of that father's
cry at the news of the death of his daughter. Now, as a parent,
I understand that cry in a way that I couldn't at that time.
Medical personnel must learn to deal with the pain and
suffering of others in order to do their job. We witness human
misery, loss of limb and life, loss of family, and at times, the
horrible unspeakable things that people do to each other. My
saving grace is always that when I remember that little girl
dying I also remember the profound experience of being at the
Easter sunrise service. I'm glad that on that morning I made the
effort to go. I remember the magnificence of that sunrise there
on the side of a mountain and the awe I felt taking it all in.
I experienced two opposite ends of the spectrum of human
emotion that day - wonder and despair, life and death, joy and
suffering, breath-taking beauty and profound sadness. I wrap the
beautiful memory of the sunrise service around me to protect me
from the hurt I felt at the death of that little girl. That
memory of the sunrise was the armor I carried into battle that
day as I went to do my duty in the ER.
As a nurse or a doctor or anyone who deals with pain and
suffering, we must care for ourselves in order to be of service
to others. We cannot give water to others from an empty well. We
must take time to refill the well - to find our Easter sunrise.
By Cindy Bollinger
Reprinted by permission of Cindy Bollinger (c) 2000, from the
upcoming Chicken Soup for the Nurse's Soul by Jack Canfield,
Mark Victor Hansen, LeAnn Theimann and Nancy Mitchell-Autio.
Apr 23, '01
I have chills and a lump in my throat. Beautiful- thanks!