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From Chicken Soup for the Nurse's Soul Second Dose

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Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.

Lao-tzu

I took my father, a congestive heart failure patient, to our local hospital emergency room. Wild television shows about ERs pale in comparison to this particular night. Chaos reigned.

Every cubicle was filled, so we were sent to a bed in a corridor, where we waited eight hours. Given the overcrowded situations, we were virtually on top of other patients, separated only by thin fabric curtains. Across from Dad, an elderly man lay apparently comatose. His wife stood beside him, holding his hand, gently stroking his arm. Doctors, nurses, technicians were in and out, asking her the usual litany of questions.

Finally, an authoritative figure in a white coat entered the room and pulled the drapes around the bed. But we could still hear. “Mr. Jones,Mr. Jones. Can you tell me where you are?”

No reply.

“Can you tell me who the president is?”

Again, no reply.

“What day is this?”

No reply.

“What year is this?”

No reply.

“Do you know what happened to you?”

No reply.

“Are you feeling pain?”

No reply.

“Can you hear me?”

No reply.

“Can you see my hand in front of your face?”

No reply.

Finally I heard the nurse gently ask, “What is the name of the woman you love?”

Softly, quiveringly, came a response from the throat of the elderly man. “Anna Marie.”

Marlene Caroselli

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