Sunday, March 30, 2008

Here With the Lord Beside Me

She sits on the double bed in her studio apartment with great dignity, the early morning light streaming in the window. Gospel music plays on a small CD player on a table by the kitchen door. This is our first meeting since I'm just covering for her usual nurse.

"How are you this morning, _________?"

"Oh, I'm OK. I'm here with the Lord beside me," she says with a nod of her head towards the CD player. The music plays on.

"Did you sleep well last night?" I ask.

"Well, I only slept a few hours. I can't sleep much since the doctors killed my daughter last year."

I look her in the eye, and she stares back. Her gaze makes me slightly uneasy, but I hold it.

"I am so sorry for the loss of your daughter. That must be so hard."

"Yes, but He sees me through."

We listen to the gospel music for a moment.

"The music is really beautiful," I say sincerely.

"Can I give you your meds now?"

"Sure, honey," she replies.

I put her morning meds together, prefill her evening meds to take with dinner, and ask if she needs anything else.

"No, I'll be alright. My PCA will be here in a few hours."

"OK. I hope to see you again some time, my dear."

"God bless you, and thanks for coming."

She stares at me with that unsettling gaze again. Sometimes the chronically mentally ill can be socially awkward or unaware of how they look at people or how they speak. But in this case, I just feel like she's looking at me very deeply, and I simply try to meet her gaze.

"God bless you, too, and I'm very sorry about your daughter."

"Thanks you. Bye bye, dear," she says as I close the door.

Walking to my car, the ubiquitousness of loss and grief hits me, and I take a deep breath as I open the car door.

Just another day on earth.
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