Someone just introduced herself over at KnitTalk, mentioning her career in a neonatal ICU, and I wrote her a note hoping that the parents of some of her patients had brought their kids back for her to get to see.
Which reminded me of Beth, one of my favorite nurses during my 10-day stay at Stanford, who, when I was about to be discharged after having been in critical condition, I promised I would come back to visit.Â The intensity in her reaction surprised me: she exclaimed, “The patients always say that. But they never do!”
Well, hey.Â I could do something about at least one patient.Â It took me a few months and several trips to find everybody, but I knitted for sixteen people–doctors, interns, nurses, nursing assistants.Â Beth got a Rabbit Tracks scarf in a soft merino.Â Brian got socks as a thank you for walking in his patients’ shoes. Franklin and Noel got hats.Â Robin got a lace cashmere/cotton scarf to match her scrubs.Â And on and on.
One nursing assistant had been terrible to me, had hated being assigned to a GI patient and had let me know it.Â I was there long enough to go from, why on earth do I have to be stuck with her, to coming to realize, how much pain must she be in, greater than any physical pain of mine, to be treating people like that?Â There is more to her story, but this is not the place for it.Â But I decided the only way I could handle her and hold onto who I am was to pray for her: to recognize her need to be cared about by somebody, anybody.
When I did go back to Stanford to visit, I came bearing those knitted gifts to convey the depth of my appreciation for everybody’s work and for their caring.Â But in their faces, I got to see the great joy for them in simply getting to see me walking back in there, on my own two feet, no IV pole, no longer so gaunt and definitely strong again.Â I was coming to thank them in person. That was all they needed.Â The knitting was just the icing on the celebratory cake.
And on the visit that I found that one nursing assistant, who knew nothing of the knitting, she saw me first and RAN to me and threw her arms around me and wept.Â I held her, too, and then pulled out the bag that was for her…Â Knitting is time and love made tangible and undeniable, and of all the people there, she’d most needed that.Â And that I could do.
When we care and are cared about, all things that matter can be healed.
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