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All nurses go to heaven

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. ~Maya Angelou

Somewhere up there, or wherever heaven may be, there is a special place for nurses. I would like to think it is a quiet, restful place, with unlimited backrubs for sore muscles and gentle hands to massage tired feet, but if I know nurses, they will probably still be caring for everyone else. Instead of having to eat cold hospital cafeteria meatloaf, though, there is hot food and time to finish a meal. There is chocolate, and plenty of it. Chocolate is medicinal, you know. Just ask a nurse. There are no answering machines or voice mails asking us…no, make that BEGGING us to come in to work because the hospital is once again short-staffed. There is no such thing as guilt in that special place. Guilt over ignoring the answering machine or caller ID because there is just not enough left in you to pull another shift. Guilt over leaving our families on holidays or not having the time to care for patients the way we would want to be cared for ourselves. There is coffee, and by coffee, I mean good, freshly made coffee, not the stuff that has been sitting in the bottom of the pot for the last six hours that we drank anyway because there was no time to make a fresh pot. Coffee is medicinal, also. The coffee can be consumed wherever we want to drink it, not where the hospital inspectors determine that coffee drinking is allowed, such as the nurses’ break room, which is a place that few nurses ever have the time to visit. There are no mandatory meetings scheduled for 9 a.m. when we just got off at 7 following three 12-hour night shifts. There are no call buttons. There are bathrooms, and time to use them. There is definitely no paperwork. There are no confused, combative, or drunk patients, and everyone says “thank you”. There are no relatives whose neighbor’s daughter is in nursing school and said it should be done this way. The front row seats in this heaven are reserved for the special nurses. They are the nurses who inspired and taught us. They are the nurses who made us laugh when all we wanted to do is cry. They are the nurses who hugged us when there was nothing to laugh about. They are the nurses who mentored and encouraged others to become nurses, so we might someday have someone to take care of us. The world lost one of those special nurses a few days ago. I hope it is a long, long time before any more of us get to that special place, but if you happen to get there before I do, you might find her front row, center. Then again, she will probably be around there somewhere, doing what she loved best, and doing what she was always meant to do.

In memory of Jeanne Gillson Steele, RN

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