A Peaceful Day

A Peaceful Day

From Chicken Soup for the Nurse's Soul Second Dose

A Peaceful Day

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you.

John 14:27

It was dark outside when I climbed into my car with a cup of coffee in one hand and my bag in the other. My clogs were covered with mud from sloshing in the swamp that used to be my lawn. Before I could slam the car’s door shut, a mosquito flew in and buzzed at my face.

As I backed out of the driveway, my view of the street was obstructed by silhouettes of tree trunks stacked on the curb. Two weeks ago the hurricane had hit and the neighborhood still looked like a war zone. The windshield wiper screeched as it wiped the muggy mist off the glass. I turned the radio on. The Christian music usually relaxed me.

Not today.

I turned the radio off.

Keeping my eye on the road, I brought the cup of coffee to my lips just as the mosquito attacked my eyelid. I slammed the coffee cup in the holder, suppressing a painful scream from my burned lips. The mosquito buzzed past my face again, and with my peripheral vision I saw it land on the window. My wedding band hit the glass so hard, my finger stung. I couldn’t resist looking at the carcass flattened on the glass. Smiling, I looked back up to see a red traffic light. In a panic, I hit the brakes. My bag flipped, spilling all of its contents on the floor.

My self-control now gone, I choked the steering wheel. I took a deep breath. God, please give me peace today. I needed it to face a twelve-hour shift in the operating room where I worked as a surgical nurse. “Please, God, give me peace,” I repeated.

I turned the radio back on. The song’s lyric said, “He will hold you in His arms.”

“I hope so,” I muttered.

Pulling into the last parking space in the garage, I sipped the cold coffee and gathered the spilled contents back into my bag. Flipping the visor mirror, I scratched the welt above my eye and flicked the mosquito off the window. As I reached the garage elevators, the metal doors shut in my face just before I could step in.

My footsteps echoed in the stairwell as I ran down the stairs. I pushed open the garage door to a sunny day as other stragglers in scrubs raced toward the time clock. The massive hospital building appeared farther away than usual.

Once inside, my destination was still a long way off. I wove in and out between people in the hallways. As I sprinted around a corner, a familiar picture on the wall caught my eye. I rushed past it every day and never took notice of its message. Today, I slowed down enough to read the caption under a painting of Jesus: “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.”

“I hope so,” I muttered, “and I’m still waiting for peace.”

In the OR, the assignment board had every grid filled with rooms, procedures, and names of surgeons, nurses, techs, and anesthesia personnel. I searched for my name. I was assigned to pediatric surgery, which was scheduled to start at 8:30 instead of the usual 7:30.

The charge nurse approached me, took one look at my face, put his arms over my shoulders, and said, “Get your room ready and then get yourself a coffee break.”

The verse came back to me, “ . . . and I will give you rest.”

In OR 21, I checked the surgical supplies, drugs, and equipment while the anesthesiologist checked the anesthesia machine and added drops of bubble-gum scent to the plastic breathing mask. After a short break, I made my way to the pre-op holding area to check on my patient. I pushed the button on the wall and the doors swished open. Dozens of patients lay on stretchers, separated by striped curtains, anxiously awaiting their turn for surgery. Doctors and nurses checked charts and vital signs while monitors beeped and alarmed, and IV fluids dripped rhythmically.

Before I could locate my patient, a blond-haired toddler ran out of the pediatric holding area toward me. His blue eyes matched his pajamas. He giggled. As his parents called out, “Matthew, come back!” he ran to me at full speed. I caught him as he jumped, locking my neck in a tight embrace.

He cuddled his face to mine, squeezing his little legs around my waist. I felt his heart pound against my chest and rocked him back and forth. His parents apologized as they tried to pry Matthew off me.

I had a difficult time letting go, and said, “Thank you, Matthew, you made it worthwhile coming in to work today.” The words to the song came back to me, “He will hold you in His arms.”

To my surprise, Matthew was my patient. I interviewed his parents regarding his surgery, allergies, and other medical questions. I could see the anxiety in their eyes and attempted to soothe their fears with words of encouragement, but I knew that their relief would only come when they saw Matthew safe and sound in the recovery area.

The surgeon approached me, and with a smile said, “Open your hand.”

He placed a gold-colored coin on my palm. “Someone gave this to me this morning and asked me to pass it on. Now I give it to you to pass on.”

The inscription on the coin read, “Peace I give you.”

I turned to my patient’s mother and placed the coin in her clammy hand.

She reluctantly handed Matthew back into my arms.

I walked toward OR 21 with Matthew hugging my neck softly.

My prayer was answered. It was a peaceful day after all.

Ivani Greppi

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