Monday, June 13, 2011
At the hospital today, I saw a patient who looked so much like my father -- same bushy eyebrows, same eyes, same hair -- that I almost started crying in the room (and did cry after I left: I hid in a back storeroom for a few minutes and sniffled). These days, I'm pretty good at comforting myself by remembering that I carry my parents inside me, but the shock of seeing those familiar features made me realize, quite painfully for a few minutes, how much I miss having them walking around in the world.
The department was exceptionally busy today. In two hours, I offered chaplaincy services to seventy-four people, and that was just patients, friends and relatives within the ED proper (lots of large family groups today, which always drives up the census). I visited the internal waiting room, but never even got out to the main waiting room. This meant that I didn't have much time to be sad, which was probably good.
A later visit, though, pushed the same buttons: a young woman sitting at her elderly father's bedside, weeping in worry and exhaustion. I gave her a hug and told her that I know how hard it is to be in that position. She seemed to appreciate the empathy.
Do I really want to be sitting next to my father's hospital bed again? Well, no. But I miss walking into any old room and finding him there, eyes twinkling.
Another volunteer chaplain's working from five to nine tonight. If his evening's anything like my afternoon, he'll have a very busy shift!