Shift Change

“It’s 7 o’clock” I said to my mom nervously. 7 o’clock. I dealt with so many scary things every day. 7 o’clock was another one of those scary things. I inhaled deeply and tried to exhale my fear of who might walk through the door. They never came in right away. Of course, I wasn’t the only there. There were many of us. Not all of us were as fortunate as I was. Not all of us were even aware of the importance of 7 o’clock. But I was, I always was.

I always wished for a certain person. In the beginning I didn’t know them yet and I had one or two favourites. There were few people that I felt comfortable around and I always wished for one of those ones. As time went on, my list of the people I wanted to see walk through that door became longer and longer. I eventually stopped worrying about who’d walk in and started looking forward to getting to see another one of my favourite people.

I didn’t talk much, but for some reason they still liked me. It didn’t matter what I did. It wasn’t because I was there that they had to like me. They didn’t have to, they simply did. I knew they did.

They were all different and they were all special. It took me awhile to realize just how long I’d be there, but they knew from the beginning. I remember the first one I met. I had just moved and there she was. She met me and she was so angry. I wasn’t afraid though. Sometimes anger is a sign someone cares. I knew that’s what this was. She was angry because she felt I hadn’t been properly cared for. I, of course, didn’t know that but I knew from then on, I would be.

The next day, as I remember it, at 7 a.m., I met another one. I sat there and she came in. I remember her saying something to me, but I don’t remember what it was. I was more interested in her than in her interest in me. I remember her having a country twang to her voice, blond bouncy hair, and a total no bullshit vibe. I found out quickly that I was right about the vibe. I could usually tell right away when someone was going to be a good fit for me and I was certain she would be.

As time went on, my new family grew bigger and I started spending more time with them. Some brought their favourite nail polish shades (red, redder, and even redder). Others made sure my daily slice of chocolate cake was always on my lunch tray. All of them made sure those  trays were taken away before the smell could linger in my room. I never ate the “food”, except the cake – the only exception. My mom brought me 3 new movies every day from the video store. Sometimes, they’d borrow my movies at night while I was sleeping. Always with my permission of course.

They always had tips and jokes and all kinds of things to make me happy. One of my favourite memories was when one of them treated me to a pizza night. I was often nauseous and didn’t eat much but there’s never been a time in my life when I couldn’t eat a good ol’ pizza. She told me we’d eat pizza together and watch whatever movie I wanted! And we did. We ate pizza and watched Die Hard which some may consider an odd choice for a 13-year-old. I’m not sure why. Of course, she had to leave every so often to spend time with the others, but I didn’t mind. She made me so happy.

One of the most special gifts I’ve received in my life came from one of them. She came in one day with what I thought was a rock. She put it down on the table in front of me. It was a nice rock. Kind of a translucent pink colour. “This is a heart stone” she said. She had brought it just for me. “Now that you have this stone, your new heart will know where to find you”.

These people were my nurses. They are some of the best people I have ever met. These are the people who take care of us when we are at our absolute worst. They don’t care what we look like, how bad we smell, how contagious we are, how much we complain, how much we cry, or how little we talk. All they care about is that we’re OK. They made sure I’d be ok.

Right now, medical workers are some of the only people who dare to walk through the doors of the one place none of the rest of us are willing to go. They keep taking care of us even though they could get sick. I really want them to get to be OK too. Please stay home, stay healthy, and protect some of my favourite people.

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