I’m still wading in the waters of the new year. I’m thinking of the past and all the people who’ve come and gone. Last night I dreamt of a woman I worked with some time ago. We shared patients on a long-term care unit, wiping brows and bandaging wounds on the night shift. We were part of a close-knit crew of women. Each of us had families to care for, and we often showed up for our shifts sleep deprived and emotionally tattered. Yet we showed up — for each other and for the patients who needed us.
After patient reports were exchanged, the nurses’ station became a confessional, a place to dump our woes and find the empathy only other women wearing similar shoes could offer. A few years after I’d moved out of state and started my freelance writing journey, I learned this nurse (the one I dreamt of) lost her teen daughter in a tragic car accident.
In my dream, she was wearing the same purple labcoat she’d always worn, her name embroidered above a dog-eared pocket. Her hair had the same healthy bounce and sheen, but her eyes were pools of black sorrow. I wondered how losing a child had changed her, and which parts of her had been broken.
Sometimes I think of the people I’ve known and I wonder how they remember me. Do they recall the sound of my laughter or the off-key songs I sang at random? When I think of the nurse who lost her child, I wonder whether anything I ever did on those nights when we knew each other has helped her heal in some small, infinitesimal way. I wonder if any of my words stuck in her mind and coaxed a smile on a day when the dark cloud of her loss felt heavy above her.
So in light of pain, of people we’ve known for moments or years, and of those who have come and gone, I will say this: Resolutions are ripe on our plates, and as we traverse this new year, let’s remember to be kind. We’ll be insanely productive, fit, focused, and all of the other things we swore we’d become, but none of those things will amount to as much as our simple acts of compassion.
Post-Resolutions Reminder for 2016…
Though I believe 2016 will overflow with awesomeness, I cannot really fathom what’s ahead. And since I can’t count the number of exchanges I’ve yet to share with family and friends, I’ll make an effort to be loving… just in case. I’ll remind myself that people who seem insignificant right now may have a huge impact on my life later on, and vice versa. Anyone can suffer a cold heartbreak at any time, so why not be warm now?
If you read my last post, you know my chubby little boy is becoming a hairy faced man — and that’s a problem for this mama. But being cognizant of the brevity of life will only make my days more meaningful.
Mantra: You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson