July 18, 2009

The Young Nurse

He'd been working with asbestos for years and now they were telling him he had mesothelioma? No, now they were telling him he had only a few weeks to live and that he'd be better off under the care of some dumb nurse in a nursing home. Well by god damn god he wasn't going. He hated nursing homes and it was his choice on how he wanted to die, not theirs.

They didn't give a crap about him anyway. Never had. "It's not their right." He told the doctor who was standing before him.

"Unfortunately Mr. Redd it is. You're not in any condition to take care of yourself." The doctor said.

"Like hell I'm not." He tried to pull himself up from the bed, ignoring the sharp pain that struck his chest.

"Nurse! Nurse!" The doctor's sudden shouts meant he was about to be strapped down to the bed again. Mumbling a curse, he settled back down onto the pillow and let out a deep sigh, but it was too late. A tall slender nurse who didn't look a year over 20 walked into the room.

"Get this old fool under control will you?" The doctor turned and left without so much as an acknowledgement to him. But it didn't matter because he knew it wouldn't take long to get this young girl out of his room.

"So let's get you settled, shall we?" The young nurse was tugging at his pillow, trying to fluff it up while he was under it. He snickered at her, wondering where the hospital found her at.

"Might try doing that without me on it." He said.

"If you insist." She said with a smile. He had to admit she had a smile that would have knocked his socks off, had he been 50 years younger, but he wasn't about to let her know that.

Instead he slapped at her hand and said, "Get the hell away from me."

But instead of recoiling she only smiled more. "Oh come on now Mr. Redd. What's gotten you so glum?"

"Glum? Glum! I'll tell you what. These damn fools want me to die in a nursing home." He was about to give her a piece of his mind when she interrupted him.

"Really? How awful. Is there anything I can do to help?"

"What? Why would you want to do that?"

"Because I understand where you're coming from."

He stared at the young nurse and wondered if she'd lost her mind or maybe he'd lost his. Why was she being so nice. What was she up to.

"You're just bullshitting me. Now go on and get the hell out of here." He said angrily. But instead of leaving she leaned forward and placed her hand on his arm.

"It's okay, Mr. Redd." She said softly. He started to speak, but realized he was wasting his time, so he thought a little enforcement was due. With one swift movement he swung his arm forward and grabbed her long blond hair, but what happened next took him by surprise. her hair moved from her head.

For one brief moment it was as if time had stopped and then he saw her eyes well up with tears and he knew he had to ask. There was no other choice. "Why do you wear a wig?"

The girl slowly smiled, even though he knew her there was a pain behind her smile, he listened. "I wear it because I have cancer."

She then went on to explain how she had decided she wouldn't let her diagnosis stop her from fulfilling her dreams, even after she'd learned that her cancer was terminal. She'd wanted to be a nurse and had studied while her friends partied. She'd taken the tests early and graduated early while her friends went back to studying. She wanted to be a part of the lives of others because she knew their pain and she'd hoped in someway that they'd live through her as she lived through them.

And she was right. He'd hugged that young girl and apologized for being such an old fool. He'd lived through her and fought his right to live at home. He didn't have a few weeks, he'd had months to live his life. But, she hadn't.

He'd kept in touch with her and had sat at the edge of her bed, felt her squeeze his hand and breathe her last breath. Now he stared out at the ocean as he lay on the beach and he smiled. It was a smile that would cross his lips forever and a smile that made him remember the young nurse who'd changed his life forever.