An Easter Lesson

An Easter Lesson

From Chicken Soup for the Nurse's Soul Second Dose

An Easter Lesson

Sorrows are our best educators. A man can see further through a tear than a telescope.

Lord Byron

Only a year had passed since my father died and I was still very much mourning him. It was Easter weekend and Mass was being offered in his honor. I needed to be there with my family. Unfortunately, due to a staffing shortage, my shift in the intensive care nursery was extended to twelve hours and I’d miss this crucial time of commemoration. To make matters worse I was assigned the care of a baby who had been born with no kidneys and a host of associated problems, and would surely not live more than a couple of days. I didn’t need to deal with the inevitable emotions that threatened to overwhelm my already fragile heart.

“That’s it! I’ll be home soon, because I’m quitting!” I fumed as my husband patiently endured my fit.

When I finished ranting, he sternly informed me, “You will not quit your job. Any other time, and for any other reason I would back you up 100 percent—but not today. You need to be there for that family and minister to them as you would have wanted somebody to minister to you last year, if you had known that your father was only going to live a couple more days.”

Ugh, I thought wryly, I hate when he’s right.

During my breakdown in the nurses’ lounge, the attending physician had noticed the obvious rift and segregation among family members in the waiting area. He ordered a meeting of the staff and family—including grandparents, uncles, and aunts—to be held in the mother’s room.

When the tight gathering convened, the doctor, with obvious difficulty, began, “I have sad news to share but please listen to what I have to say and then I will take questions.”

He turned to the teenage couple, “You two are so young to be in this situation. Your parents may not understand, but they were trying to protect and guide you, and now, you’re faced with any parent’s worst nightmare. Your baby will probably not survive this weekend.”

There was a uniform gasp, followed by rapt silence.

He went on to explain more in depth the infant’s condition. The family begged that something be done. No, the doctor assured, it was medically impossible.

Then he continued, now facing the relatives. “Let me set some ground rules right now. I don’t want anyone to criticize, condemn, or judge these young parents. What they need right now is your unconditional love and support. No fighting, no gossiping, no blaming. Just accept this child and your kids. This is hard enough as it is.”

After his speech the room was still, save for the tears falling down broken faces. The doctor hugged the parents and left the room.

I followed him out and tapped him on the shoulder. “I’m so proud of how you handled that. You look like you could use a hug too.”

He gratefully accepted as his eyes welled up, and through quivering lips managed, “Thanks . . . thank you.”

I returned to the ICN with a renewed purpose. Together with the family we took locks of the baby’s hair, made footprints, took pictures, and created all the precious memories that families of newborns cherish. It was a special time for all, but I suspect, mainly for me. I didn’t want to be there that day, but that is precisely where God wanted me.

I discovered a few things that Easter. That sometimes in the midst of great sorrow, tragedy even, people are knit together in a dramatic way. And one doctor, unable to mend that tiny body, was able to miraculously repair a devastating scenario.

Best of all, I found out that ministering hope to others going through a bad time can be the best medicine for a hurting heart.

Sylvia Martinez
as told to Barbara Cueto

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