by Andrea McKinnie

Claudia Monroe was walking down the corridor of one of the finest hospitals in the country. Healing Hands Medical Center accepted only the best of the best to be a part of their team. Claudia recalled the day that she received her letter in the mail. She had just come in from clinicals. The wind was howling and the rain was coming down like arrows. The thunder had been so loud that at times she caught herself ducking. As she thought about this now she chuckled, but that day it hadn’t been so funny. Outside of the monstrous thunderstorm, there had not been anything else unusual about that day. Actually, it was kind of ironic when she considered the twist of events. Her entire nursing class had been in an ill mood all day long due to the weather. Then when she arrived home and retrieved the mail, she literally leaped for joy. She stood outside for at least ten minutes repetitively reading her acceptance letter over and over. In fact she still had it memorized.

Dear Miss Monroe:

            We are pleased to inform you that your application for hire has been approved. However,            we do require that you come in and meet with our board. You will be interviewed and            based on your answers, you will be placed in the department of our choosing.

            Looking forward to working with you,

            The Board of Healing Hands

            President, Gloria Freeman, MD

She spent half the night trying to dry the letter out from the soaking it took from her disengagement of reality. When she finally realized that she had been standing in the rain reading the letter, she ran inside like a cat being chased by a dog. Yes, that day still brought excitement to her. It was a beautiful ending to a stormy day.

Now she was walking down the corridor taking in every tiny detail. She saw a plump, middle aged nurse holding the hand of a little boy. The boy could not have been more than five years old. The nurse had pepper colored hair and  ringlet curls with silver streaks. She was dressed in the most crisp red pair of scrubs. Claudia was sure that that lady got them professionally cleaned. The nurse was telling the little boy that his father would be out to take him back to see his mother in about five minutes. The nurse was so tender with the little boy. She had now sat down on the floor with him and they were coloring some lonely looking flower on a piece of white paper. That’s why Claudia loved this place. Healing Hands Medical Center had a reputation for being loving and caring. There genuine love could be felt and seen by anyone who walked through the doors. It was like no other hospital she’d ever known. It was not very big and it did not pay a lot of money, but the atmosphere was peaceful, soothing, and filled with love. Here at this hospital the staff met before each shift and took a small moment to pray before beginning their day. They spent time with their patients. They didn’t push their duties off onto other people. They each took responsibility for their share of the work. They worked together as a team. They showed love and compassion. That’s the type of place that Claudia wanted to be.

Claudia gave herself one more look over. She had chosen to wear a navy blue suit with a turquoise broach. She thought the hint of color would show that she could be adventurous. She had decided to wear her hair down that day, but now she was reconsidering the idea. Her long black, wavy tresses flowed beautifully, but she didn’t want them to be distracting. Maybe I should put them up she thought to herself. However, when she had reached into her purse for a couple of bobby pins she had this intense popping sound that occurred in the left side of her head. She couldn’t really describe it, but it was enough to disturb her. She looked at her watch: 12:17 p.m. I don’t have much time. I guess my hair will have to stay down.

She gathered her things together and continued to walk down the corridor. Then the popping happened again. The popping was loud, but not painful. Actually she couldn’t feel it at all. It was enough to make her feel like something was wrong though. She immediately whispered a prayer. Dear Lord: Whatever is wrong, please help the situation. If someone is considering suicide then stop them. If someone is threatening a stroke, then heal them. Please Lord, send help. In Jesus name, Amen.

Claudia didn’t know what was wrong and she doesn’t even really know why she felt like she needed to pray, but it was better than doing nothing at all. When she finally found the receptionist’s desk, she heard a loud wailing sound. She saw nurses and doctors running towards the end of the hall that she had just come from. One nurse had grabbed the crash cart. Doctors and nurses both were barking orders at someone about everything. Claudia heard someone yell, “Clear, all Clear!”, and just like that it was over. Heads were bowed and a few people kneeled with their heads bowed. Claudia had gotten close enough to realize what had happened. Right there in the same place that she had seen him earlier, lay the little boy. His little body was limp and now turning colors. He looked peaceful, but he was so young. She asked the nurse who she had seen sitting with him earlier what had happened. The nurse, whose name tag read Elnor Shaw, RN, told her that the little boy had started complaining about his head. The nurse told her that it was about 12:17 p.m. She said that she remembered the time because she had looked down at her watch in order to keep up with his complaints. The nurse told her that it all happened so suddenly. She said she remembered him saying, “Nurse Shaw, my head’s still hurting, but it’s okay, this nice man said that he would take care of me. He said that he was sent to take me home.” Then Joshua closed his eyes.

The nurse was now crying full, uncontrollable sobs. Claudia herself had noted that her face was now wet. She doesn’t even know when the tears began to flow. Then Claudia stopped breathing for about 5 seconds.

Claudia exclaimed, “Oh no! Did you say 12:17 p.m.”

The nurse looked puzzled and replied, “Yes dear. It was that time exactly when his complaint began. Now…if you will excuse me, I must go find his father. He will be heartbroken. His wife is here on hospice care, but he had to leave unexpectedly to pick up their little girl. Normally, Joshua would have gone with him, but today he wanted to stay here with me.”

The nurse let out another sob and walked away. Claudia’s stomach had now began to hurt. Surely, the times were a coincidence. She did not even know the little boy. She had heard about other people having these type of encounters, but she had never experienced anything like this for herself.

Claudia staggered back towards the receptionist desk when she realized that she had lost track of time. She looked at her watch and noticed that it was now 1:07 p.m. “Oh no!” Claudia exclaimed. She was now thirty-seven minutes late for her interview. Surely, the board would understand. She immediately made herself speed up. She didn’t have time to check her make-up. She realized that she probably looked horrible. A tear-stained face and the queasiness of her stomach didn’t allow her to use her best smile, but she was trying her best. She reached the receptionist’s desk and gave her name. She apologized for her tardiness and made sure that the receptionist knew that she wasn’t in habit of being tardy. The receptionist gave her a bright smile and explained that her tardiness was not a problem today. She informed Claudia that she had seen her when she arrived earlier and also when she went down to see what had happened. She also told her that Dr. Gloria had been one of the people down there in the midst of the commotion. Claudia gasped in surprise. She hadn’t even considered that to be a possibility. The receptionist gave Claudia the option to reschedule or she could wait for Dr. Gloria to return. “She should be back in about one hour if you would like to wait. However, if you leave, it won’t be counted against you. We understand the effect this could have on you on the day of your interview.”

Claudia agreed to wait. She didn’t want to put this off and besides the hour would give her a chance to fix her make-up. She left the receptionist and went into the bathroom across the hall. The bathroom smelled of eucalyptus and peppermint. What an odd smell for a bathroom, but it seemed to make her senses more alert. She grabbed some paper towels, wet them and began to wipe her face. She took off as much of the make-up as she could. Then she reapplied it. I definitely need to invest in waterproof make-up she thought. She had never purchased any before because it was so expensive and she only wore make-up when the occasion called for it. Today was a day that she thought called for it, but she really didn’t feel like putting it on.

She couldn’t get the little boy out of her head. Seeing him holding the nurse’s hand. Seeing them both color that lonely flower. Then hearing about the story that the little boy had told the nurse right before he passed away. It was all too much to think about. Claudia now found herself crying uncontrollably. Claudia tried to regain control over her emotions.

How can you be a nurse if you can’t accept the inevitable she thought, but this situation had been so much more different.

She looked at her make-up and decided to just go without it. She cleaned her face and applied some lotion. Her eyes were now puffy and red. Her nose was red and she felt so horrible. She immediately thought of the little boy’s father. How will he feel when he finds out that his little boy is gone. She fell to her knees and began to cry out to God for the man to be comforted. She even prayed for the little’s boy sister and mother. The nurse had said that she was on hospice, but she didn’t say what was wrong or if she was conscious.

            Dear Lord,

            I know that you are working out something on the behalf of this family. They have lost a   young one today. They have lost a sweet innocent little boy. Help them to receive your            comfort. Help them to receive your peace. I know they will cry, mourn, and ask why, but l ead them into your peace that passes all understanding. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Claudia got up off the floor and once again gathered her wits. She looked at her watch and realized that she had thirty minutes to spare. She found the cafeteria and got a cup of coffee. The cafeteria smelled like mountain fresh coffee mixed with cinnamon. There were long green plants mixed with deep red flowers of some sort hanging over each table. It was absolutely wonderful. The walls of the cafeteria were pure glass and the brightness of the sun hitting her face gave her a quick boost of energy. She looked around and noticed that there weren’t a lot of people in the cafeteria. However, she looked up and sitting at a small round table was Nurse Shaw. She was holding a brown mug with both hands. The steam was rising from the cup and going directly into the nurses face. Claudia wondered if she should go and check on the lady or if she should just leave her alone. Nurse Shaw turned around just at that moment as if she could hear Claudias’ thoughts. She gave Claudia a weak smile and nodded her head in a way to let Claudia know that she could come over.

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