When I was younger, I remember my mom leaving for nursing school in a crisp, white uniform. It seems strange that I can recall that detail since it was so long ago, but it's ingrained in my memory. For as long as I can remember, my mother has been a nurse, always taking care of others - sometimes at the expense of her own well being. She would nurse them back to health, or give them peace in their final days. My mother, the nurse.
So many times, I remember her coming home, lit up as she talked about her day at work. How one person made a recovery, or how another met a goal they'd been working on for a while. (Names always withheld, of course.) Sometimes, she came home angry because someone mistreated her patients, or because someone mistreated her, as a nurse. Other times, she came home crying because she lost someone that night. Sometimes, several someones.
You're supposed to keep yourself from feeling attached to your patients. Sometimes that works. But it's human nature to care, and taking care of someone when they're vulnerable occasionally results in an attachment. My mother cares with her whole being, as do many of her colleagues, and they feel these victories and losses acutely.
I can't tell you how often my mother has come home exhausted from a long night shift. Her feet hurt, her back aches, and she needs to rest, but her first concern is always someone else. She'll pick up the house, put away the dishes, and cook everyone breakfast before she even gets to bed herself. And if she gets a phone call from a friend in need, well... she's always there for that, too.
I've met many nurses in my time that were incredible. Friendly, personable, nurturing, but many times overlooked. I often wonder why it is that the very people that take care of us when we're sick or recovering aren't celebrated more often, but I guess it's lucky that we have an entire week dedicated to recognizing the hard work of these medical professionals, men and women that have dedicated their life and time to helping others. So how can you help celebrate them the other 51 weeks of the year?
Tell them how much you appreciate their work. Take them something good and nutritious to eat from time to time. Write them a nice card. Do you know a nurse in your family? Treat them to breakfast, or maybe to a really nice pedicure. You know what might be even better? A massage to ease those aching backs.
Or, you could just tell them thank you. Sometimes those two words can mean the world to another person.
Thank you, mom. I know I don't say it enough, but thank you for everything that you do, and everything you have done. You're amazing.