submitted by: benzzz

she was difficult to please and was not pleasant. she complained about almost everything, and she had this look that made her frustrations about life and what she did to live it very palpable.

used to patients like her, i didn’t really mind the coldness and the ungrateful attitude. it was not that i was immuned to it, it was just that i have learned not to take situations like these personally because it will make me an obvious loser. i reasoned she had every reason to behave like that.

she was extremely jaundiced and her large abdomen said it all. i was told from report that her liver cirrhosis was secondary to alcohol abuse. i looked at her chart and noticed that this year alone, she has been in the hospital or clinic 48 times.

i didn’t think i had enough time to connect with her, so i didn’t even try. i know that sounds mean, but i will not lie about it. i expected the night to drag along very slowly, and i sort of felt bad about that, but i knew that if i just get out of her way, we will both spend the whole night in peace. i will take care of her needs, and she will sleep the night away.

i thought to myself: “when the night is over, i will hand her care over to the next nurse, and i will forget all about her. she will be one of those patients who pass by me and whose name and face i will never remember”.

i was wrong.

she threw up twice. she wanted to be cleaned. she had an accident. she wanted to be cleaned. she demanded three blankets. she wanted her back rubbed. she wanted the light off. she wanted her hair stroked. she wanted the curtains pulled. she wanted the temperature up. she wanted her pillow flipped. she wanted water. she wanted to change her gown. she wanted booties. she wanted the door closed. she wanted somebody to sit next to her. she wanted peace. she was scared.

just when i thought i was going crazy with all the requests, i realized that she was not talking to me. she was demanding all sorts of things alright, but not from me. she was asking her husband. not nicely, but with urgency.

her husband, he was one of a kind. not even once did i see in his face that he was getting weary. the demanding attitude that usually irk even very loving family members did not even rattle him. he was consistently kind and empathetic. he treated her with such gentleness and care, that the sight of him cleaning her vomit took my breath away. the way he ran his fingers through her hair made my heart flutter. he talked to her in the softest voice possible, his presence calmed her down. it also warmed my soul.

it is amazing how things just get to you sometimes. all of a sudden, it dawned on me that i have been too cynical lately. that other than my own definition and experience of love, i have questioned its reality in other people’s lives.

i thought about it, and i thought about it hard. was there something in her that only he can see? what if it has nothing to do with her? what if it was just him, the way he was built? a man born to truly love. one who truly knows how treat a woman kindly, unconditionally, without questions.

maybe that explains everything. maybe he was just one of the very few.

but still. there are questions…

if love is undefinable, how come some people can make it so tangible?
if love can be this beautiful, how come only a handful can actually say so?