51: Being a Hospital Mom

51: Being a Hospital Mom

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Inspiration for Nurses

Being a Hospital Mom

As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you; and you will be comforted over Jerusalem.

~Isaiah 66:13 NIV

Chris was one of “my kids” on pediatrics. His foghorn voice would ring out during report and announce who he wanted to be his nurse that day. If I made out the assignments, I’d care for him, or ask others if I could be his nurse. His joy made tough days better. We laughed and talked and if I had extra time I spent it with him.

Chris had a lot of difficulty walking because of his physical handicaps. When I went on errands, I pulled him in a red wagon. He talked to everyone along the way, gave directions to new families, and made sure everybody in the hospital knew who he was, from the administrators to the housekeepers. Once he learned your name he never forgot it. He would call for staff by name, and explain exactly what he wanted from them. He had learned that to survive long periods of time in the hospital he had to demand attention, and he was rarely disappointed.

He was a charmer in every sense of the word. He fluttered his eyelashes and smiled when he asked for something, and he frowned during blood draws and procedures. He remembered everything we ever told him and repeated it to us word for word, so we learned to choose our words carefully.

Once Chris hid from me before he was due for a treatment. After twenty minutes, I was about to call the security guards to help me find him when he jumped from the linen closet.

“Boo! Surprise!”

Relieved, first I hugged him… and then started yelling at him. “Christopher! Don’t you ever do that again! I was so worried that something had happened to you!” It was not one of my prouder moments as a competent nurse. After I regained my composure I told him just how worried I’d been and how sad I would be if he were hurt or lost.

That’s when he began calling me Hospital Mom because I loved him enough to yell at him, just like his mom did at home.

As pediatric nurses we often do many of the “Mom” things for chronically ill kids whose parents can’t be there all the time. We help the kids brush their teeth, wipe their bottoms and read them bedtime stories or make up our own. We create memories and try to make their illnesses less of a burden for them and their families. We borrow them for a time and love them when no one else can be there.

Unfortunately, Chris was on borrowed time. He had gone for a bone marrow transplant he knew was unsuccessful.

He casually said to me, “Jesus came to me and asked if I was ready to come to heaven.”

I tried not to look surprised.

“I told Jesus that I would be soon, but Grandma and Mom aren’t ready yet.” He asked, “Kathy, do you think my mom and Grandma will see me in heaven?”

“Chris, I think they will feel you are there, but I don’t know if they will be able to see you. I do think you can look down and see them, though.”

I reminded him of the children he had known who were already there, and said I was sure they would be there waiting when it was his time.

“Do you think people are still sick in heaven?”

“No, I don’t think so, Chris. I think heaven is the most beautiful place you can think of, and sickness is gone and love is all around you. That’s heaven.”

Shortly thereafter, Chris got weaker and his voice grew silent. His stepfather and I sat at his bedside and held his hand when he took his last breath.

And I cried like a mom.

~Kathleen E. Jones

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