With the door ajar, I heard a voice. “Love you, see you in the morning.“
She walked out the room and headed towards the elevator. “If there’s anything, call me,” she waved at me.
“Your mom is so sweet,” I handed over a cup of pills. As a new nurse, I tried to juggle both- caring for my patients, while getting to know my patients. “How are you feeling?”
“Hi Soapie, it’s good to see you again,” she tried to smile. “But my chest feels tight.”
I checked her oxygen level, listened to her lungs, then ran a marathon: rushed to the medication cart, back to my patient to put her on a nebulizer, and reassessed her breathing. I repositioned her, raised the head of the bed, called respiratory and her attending, and gave all the PRN and STAT meds.
But her breaths became more shallow. The pink in her lips disappeared.
Please don’t die… you are too young to die… Before I knew it, my legs pushed her bed out the room and sprinted down a long hall.
Toes tapped and heads bobbed to the groove of electric guitar, keyboard, and drums. The lead vocalist serenaded the audience. As he sang, I searched the tables for familiar faces.
Wrapped in her black coat, she sat quietly, hands folded in her lap.
“Jum reap sua (hello),” I pressed my palms together, raised them to my nose, and bowed my head in a formal Khmer greeting.
Maybe she didn’t recognize me without the scrubs. Or maybe she couldn’t hear me, with the Khmer rock band blasting on the stage. The band was the highlight of the fundraising dinner for the Khmer community.
“Oh, it’s you!” her stoic expression transformed into a toothy grin. She patted my hand.
The “More Than a Number” Exhibit featuring the testimonies of Cambodian Genocide Survivors. 2012.
“We live in a world where bad stories are told,
stories that teach us life doesn’t mean anything
and that humanity has no great purpose.
It’s a good calling, then, to speak a better story.
How brightly a better story shines.
How easily the world looks to it in wonder.
How grateful we are to hear these stories,
and how happy it makes us to repeat them.”
― Donald Miller, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life