The one who sat next to me the first night, as my newborn was whisked away and a medical team swarmed like honeybees around him. The one who passed tissues, held my hand, rubbed my back. Without her, my tears and I would have been alone as I whispered fervent prayers for my son's life to be spared. A nurse did that.
The one who watched over him, tenuous, fragile, barely holding on to life. The one who advocated, held him steady, and kept watch, as I fell asleep wondering if I would ever see him again with breath in his lungs. A nurse did that.
The one who taught me. No eye rolls or sign of annoyance at my incessant questions. What is this? What is that for? What did that word mean? I needed to mother my son, somehow, and he knew that, so with everything he did, he taught me. And while he cared for my son, he cared also for me. A nurse did that.
The one who laughed with me. My first normal conversation in weeks. My first chance to feel like a human and not just "mom of patient X." The one who gave me a chance to tell my stories like I would to anyone else and the one who made the sterile hospital walls feel a little less constricting, a little less foreign, a little more like home. A nurse did that.
The one who rubbed his little head, saw him as more than just a sick baby, talked about his chicken legs and sweet smile. The one who saw more than just a sickness, she saw the special boy behind it, humanizing him, valuing him, cherishing him, so that I wasn't the only one. A nurse did that.
The one who coached me, who looked toward the future with me, even when a future seemed like a slim chance. The one who planned out sports and told me never to restrict him, to never put my own fearful limitations on him, but to let my baby boy only limit himself. The one who gave me hope for a future and didn't let me give up. A nurse did that.
The one who supported me, locked eyes across a frantic room. No words were needed, only action, as code doses that we both knew by heart were drawn up. Bag pulled off the wall and in action, our eyes switched from his fragile body to the screen and back to him. The one who took the time to know my son and to know me so well that we had an understanding, an acknowledgement of the terrifying situations and the fact that she would stick by him, come hell or high water. A nurse did that.
The one who advocated when we felt uneasy. The one who heard me and spoke and didn't stop until he was helped, his tiny life rescued. A nurse did that.
The one who let him in. Years of heartache after heartache had built her walls, little ones ripping our her heart as she cared for them, grew to love them, and said goodbye. The one who vowed to not let another one in, and yet, shift after shift, he broke through, and she let him. A nurse did that.
The one who played with him. Silly games. Special songs. Always hunting down his favorite mobile and toys from the supply rooms and always knowing exactly what would make him laugh, kick his legs, and smile that Charlie smile. A nurse did that.
The one who talked me through the tough decisions. After rounds, after doctor meetings, after it all, we'd have our own conversations, weighing options and discussing the best plan for the boy he also knew so well. No pressure, just knowledge and just a wall to bounce thoughts and ideas off of when I had no one else. A nurse did that.
The one who sat with me as the tears fell. Silent, knowing glances, fully acknowledging the pain ahead. We were backed against a wall, and little lungs can only be helped so much. Another person to sit in the pain with me, and they were there. A nurse did that.
The ones who came when it was time. 10:00pm drives in to the ICU on a Sunday night, winter coats on, tired, crying eyes, all to say goodbye to the boy, who for 200 days, stole their heart with his unfathomable spirit and gummy smiles. Kisses, sweet words, imprints, and hack job haircuts, we wept, laughed, and remembered together. Nurses did that.
The ones who held him after he passed, whispering goodbye, honoring him, once in life and now in death. Nurses did that.
The ones who wrote and read words for his funeral. Words of impact. Words of life change. Words of love, all from a blonde-haired boy who never spoke one word. Weeping and mourning as they told of the boy who lived for six months and seventeen days within four hospital walls, but whose spirit would live on for long after. Nurses did that.
The ones who remember him with me, even when the rest of the world forgets. The ones who validate his existence, who sweetly remember his spirit, who will never stop saying his name. Nurses did that.
The ones who changed my life as they cared for and loved my son, in life and now, in death. Nurses did that.