Julie; Where were you. I’ve been calling all day!
Matt; It was Ralph’s birthday. I did tell you I was out on a birthday party.
Julie; You turned your phone off?
Matt; Yeah, because you kept calling! What’s up with you anyway?
Julie; It was at one of those days at work, there was this sweet little girl, she was thirteen, she had been in and out of hospital since she was a toddler! She had scoliosis, where her spine had to be pinned and the complications affected her mobility. She was such a delightful child, She had so many other health complications too, her legs were in braces for walking, although she could barely take steps, she was such a determined little girl, she tried, and although the odds were stacked high against her. She always had a smile!
Some days when I saw her, she would give me this huge beam, a twinkle in her eye. She made my day when she smiled at me as I looked at her on her bed. She had shoulder length hair and gorgeous blue eyes! She was back in hospital again, after catching pneumonia, and seeing her lay there, struggling to breathe, the oxygen mask across her face, my heart just melted. I went over and clasped her hand, smiled at her with my eyes, oh those soft, mellow blue eyes glistened to me. I asked if she was comfortable and if I could get her anything. She shook her head, smiled through the clear mask. I felt a lump, well up in my throat, my eyes started to bulge a little and I swallowed, to try to stem the emotions from bursting up and spilling out over my eyes! My heart was breaking as I held this little angels hand! She melted me in every way possible. I read her a story from the books on her bedside, she kept hold of my hand. She wouldn’t let it go. When I finished the story, she squeezed gently on my hand and then nodded, she was trying to say thank you. Her parents then came in to the bay, and I stood up and moved away. I winked at her, telling her I would see her later. less than an hour later, before I could finish my coffee, I heard the nurse shouting ‘crash trolley’ My heart jumped, I instinctively knew it was the little girl. I ran over to her bedside, there was another nurse and a support assistant. The nurse starting to give her CPR, then I took over as we waited for the doctor. We took turns pummelling and pumping her little heart. Shouting and encouraging her to ‘breathe, breathe’.
I was rubbing on her arm that grew colder by the second, I knew she had gone, but all of us couldn’t stop doing chest compressions, because we didn’t want to let her go, even though we knew that stopping was the bet for her, and for us. The doctor came, and he called her time of death!
My arms were so tired and my heart just cracked open. The floodgates burst forth and erupted. Both myself and the other two staff couldn’t contain our emotions! Trying hard to remain professional and composed, we’re not meant to show emotion, its a sign of being human, we’re supposed to stay strong in these situations. We all looked around the bedside, trying to find something to busy our hands, I guess we were trying to distract ourselves to help us stay strong in this moment of sadness. A lock of her hair had fallen into her eyes and I gently swept it aside. There she lay, lifeless, limp and cold. But what was most touching about her like this, was the tiny smile that was evident on her porcelain white face. She even managed to smile for us, in her last breathe. It made the tears roll down even more. Unable to contain the aching rise of emotion, I stepped away. We all did. Her mother was sobbing at the foot of the bed, she burst forth and I stepped back, to let her hold her baby one last time. Her mother scooped her into her arms and sat on the chair beside the bed, holding her close to her chest and rocking back and forth. The tears in the bay today were plentiful. Everybody was affected! It was a day like no other, I’ve never been so emotionally ripped open like I was today! The raw pain seared through me, like a burning fire.
I couldn’t bare to keep watching the two of them, mother and daughter locked in one of the most breathtakingly painful scenes I hope I never have to experience again. I know death is part of my job, and ensuring both the families and the patients are comfortable, in their last moments! But today was different. Today was special!
I walked off, aimlessly walking around, lost in my thoughts of how special this little girl was to me! I called you, but the phone kept ringing out! So I kept walking. Then I saw the chapel, and in I went. I lit a candle and dropped to my knees at the alter. Tears were streaming down my face, it was getting harder and harder, and every time I tried to gain my composure, the tears kept falling. I couldn’t stop the floodgates exploding! I leant forward, and put my head into my hands, and just let my body rack with sobs, I even started rocking, the sobbing just took over my body. Then once the flow of tears had slowed down, I looked up at the cross in front of me, clasped my hands together and prayed as hard as I could with all my heart and soul. This special little angel had touched my heart and penetrated my soul in a way I had never experienced before. I closed my eyes and prayed she had a safe crossing, over the veil. I prayed she had a relative or someone to greet her on the other side, maybe god would lift her himself and take her beautiful soul straight to heaven.
I finally stopped crying, then took a deep breathe and stood up. In that moment of grief, I saw a small flicker of light out of the corner of my eye. I wondered if it was an orb or something, whatever it was, it gave me a warm feeling. Then I lit another candle and said thank you! I sat on the pew, composing myself for a moment, when what felt like a million feathers encased my body, there was a soft wind, I looked up and saw the curtain blow gently. Every pore in my body tingled with a softness I had never experienced before. Was this heavens gift, to feel kissed by the tenderness of a million feathers? Without a doubt, it penetrated me from the outside, in! It completely took my breathe away. I took another deep breathe, I felt I had to catch my breathe, I was feeling lifted, loved and strangely blessed, from this strange sensation. Tears came over me again, only these ones were joyful, a gratitude that made my heart smile!
I didn’t realise how long I had spent in the chapel, it had been over two hours. I called you again, but still no answer. So I left a text message, to call me. I went back on the ward, it was nearly the end of my shift and the atmosphere was eerily quiet and sombre. The angel had such made such an impact, the whole ward felt the loss of her presence. We all felt the heartbreak today. She was one very special girl, one of heavens finest treasures.
Two of the staff said they were going for a drink, I never usually do drink after work, but on this occasion, it felt right. After all, I wanted to talk to someone who would listen and I hoped you would answer my persistent calls at some point. I didn’t want to go home to an empty house, it would of been too unbearable. I needed the space to grieve, besides, it wasn’t right, so I went to the bar, only I wasn’t in the mood for company, I chose to sit alone. I sat watching the people in the pub, a young couple laughing, a couple of men playing darts. Life carried on, but my heart didn’t want to laugh, or carry on. I wanted to talk to someone. I needed the human touch. For the first in my relationship, I felt abandoned!
A man came and sat beside me, he smiled and I smiled back. In our silence there was so much more shared. He then asked if I was waiting for someone and I shook my head. I then returned conversation, and we talked. It was nice. He was warm and charming, he had the warmest blue eyes, they reminded me of the little girl today. It felt right, looking into his kind, soothing eyes. I felt heard. I didn’t talk about work, or what happened that day, and he asked me if I wanted a drink. I agreed, and the ice broke a bit more between us! His lips became more and more enticing as the evening passed, and the wine flowed with our conversation. I even laughed, which was a welcome relief. The jukebox played ‘let her down easy,’ by Terence Trent Darby, one of my favourite songs, and he asked me to dance. I agreed. I couldn’t say no. It was a gentle dance, and one that my whole body ached to move to. I leant my head onto his shoulder, I felt so safe, warm and ironically, I felt loved? By a compete stranger? I wondered for a split second if god had sent him my way, to relieve the heaviness of my sadness and loneliness! That happens sometimes, we meet someone by chance, like they were meant to just come along, at that time of need, and then they leave?
As we swayed slowly to the music, he whispered in my ear how much he wanted me. I was weak, I pulled my head up from his shoulder and looked into those blue warm eyes! his lips were red and full, almost lulling me to kiss them. And in that moment, I wanted to! I wanted to let strange lips kiss mine, because I needed them. Because I was so grateful that he had walked into my life, at a time when I really needed someone. A friend. And more than anything, a shoulder. To lean on, to cry on. To hold my heart, as broken and as heavy as it felt in my chest. I needed him.
I didn’t oblige, I thanked him so much for his kindness, for his wonderful company and for this special dance. I smiled at him, them felt a tear creep into the corner of my eye. I nodded to him, because I couldn’t speak. It was the tears choking me again!
This time it wasn’t the grief of the day. It was a loneliness that I had never knew existed before, a loneliness that revealed to me the truth of my marriage!
To have and to hold, how ironic those words were today, except it was another man that gave me the truth, another man helped me in my darkest hour of need, and I held him…. I didn’t have and I didn’t hold – Matt. The words from those vows bounced around in my head. For better and for worse….. Today was for worse, one of those days you know, that doesn’t pass without some warmth and tenderness. One of those days that, for some, never happens to them, and for others, they may have many worse days, you believe that what you take as a wedding vow, you will always be safe in the knowledge you have a husband and a friend, to hold you through the worse, one of those days where you don’t believe you ever have to live through alone.
Matt; I’m sorry!
Julie nodded, rose up from the dining table and went to walk away!
Matt; I’ll make it up to you.
Julie; You can’t. Because the moment has gone….. You can’t bring it back.
Matt; I never abandoned you Julie?
Julie; Oh You did! You want passion but you can’t handle, compassion! I touched heaven today, and I wanted to share that with you, but you were too busy to be there, in my hour of need!
Matt; Where you going?
Julie; To find the blue eyes!