Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it. – Hebrews 13:2
I have been a nurse for over three decades. I believe I make a difference in the lives of my patients and their families. I have many stories, but one in particular is very dear to my heart.
Several years ago, I had the opportunity to work with a teenage boy, Josh. He was involved in a motor vehicle accident and sustained a traumatic brain injury. When Josh was admitted to rehabilitation, he was very confused and agitated, with an extremely short attention span. His parents were loving, caring and supportive.
As he went through rehabilitation, I was concerned that many of the deficits caused by Josh’s injury might not be resolved, and that his recovery would require many years. Josh was so young, and his journey had barely begun.
Months went by. One day, I received a letter with an invitation to Josh’s graduation. In the letter, he thanked me for everything I had done for him. I remembered what his parents said to me on the day of his discharge from rehabilitation: “This has been the hardest thing we have had to do and we hope that no one else ever has to endure this, but if they do we hope that you will be there to help them on their journey to recovery.” Josh still had cognitive deficits, and my heart was heavy because I knew he might never fully recover.
Years went by. Then, last Christmas, a young man approached me and asked if I remembered him. “What’s your name?” I asked. He handed me a card that read “Officer Joshua Jones.” My mouth fell open. I hugged him tightly and told him how proud I was of him. With tears in his eyes, he said, “I couldn’t have made it this far without your help. I think of you and your words of encouragement often. Thank you so much.” This, I thought, is the best Christmas gift I could have received.
Every day, nurses care for the sick, and it can be difficult work. It is much easier to heal bruised skin than bruised souls, but through compassion, laughter and hugs we can make a big difference in a patient’s recovery. My heart is filled with the many thanks I have received from patients and by these simple words: “I’m glad you’re my nurse today.”
Shared From the Sacred Stories Archive
Questions for Reflection
We send many patients home with heavy hearts, not knowing what the final outcome will be. Are you carrying particular patients in your heart even now?
What’s the best advice you can offer to a caregiver whose heart is heavy? What has been helpful to you at times like this author describes?
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