The ward’s halls are paved with anxiety, painted with sighs and patched over with prayer. COVID and other nasty body snatchers hover. But she stands at the nursing station, pen in hand, checking charts. She’s young. Calm. Pretty. And pretty weary. Three more hours till she can leave. Her littles wait for her good-night stories and hugs. Someone else will tuck them in tonight. By the time she pulls into her driveway they’ll be in dreamland. She misses that most, she says, but it doesn’t stop her from providing excellent care. Because I’ve hung around this ward a lot the last several weeks, I know that. She’s one of the good ones.
He sits down sometimes when he comes into the room. We’ve never met this doctor covering for our own before. Nevertheless, he acts as though my husband is his only patient. He asks questions, explains what he sees in the charts and test results. He listens to my input and questions as though he respects my contribution to the care of that man in the bed. He admits he is human; sometimes makes mistakes. He’s also one of the good ones.
She pushes her cart into the room and gets to work. After a few days of polite hellos, she tells me she’s been on the job for decades. That she likes the work and takes pleasure in keeping things sanitary for the likes of us. Her cheerful work, her neatly organized cart of mops and cloths, sanitizers and brushes make me joke that I need her at my house. She likely hears that dozens of times daily, but she laughs. She’s another of the good ones.
A nearby patient suddenly lets go with the longest (and loudest) string of abusive language I’ve ever heard. It explodes from his mouth like verbal projectile vomit. He hurls it at anyone who passes. A care aide enters. Speaks softly. Firmly. “You can’t talk like that in here, Sir.” He subdues like a chastened child, opens his mouth to receive the first bite of lunch she offers with quiet grace. I marvel. She’s one of the good ones too.
I hear the tall guy’s laughter in the hall. It bubbles over, tinges my own weariness with merriment. “That nurse is a giggler,” I say to my husband, but he’s so sick someone could ride in on an elephant and he wouldn’t notice. The giggler kept his eye on him all night; concerned at Rick’s low oxygen levels. “I wondered if you’d make the night,” he tells him in the morning. “I’m glad you did.” He’s one of the good ones, too.
Our doctor, on her return from away, takes beautiful charge. She high-fives my husband for surviving; says she was “praying, praying” as the ambulance had whisked him to a larger hospital. She’s another good one. A keeper. But then, perhaps they all are. Thank you, God, for using good hospitals and medical staff in the miracle of care and healing. They deserve more gratitude than they’ll ever get.