What is That Sound?

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Rays of hope shining through gray skies.

Over a month ago

Thump, thump!  Staccato steps hurried down the hall.

“She is wearing a mask,” my coworker whispered.¬† Seeing the patient in the hallway, she ducked into our office to distance herself.

In the setting of a pandemic, I thought it’d be normal to see people wearing masks.

But I understood. We were all a little scared.

~ ~ ~

Clink. 

Forks dropped against porcelain plates in the sink, as my husband washed dishes at home.¬† “What if one of us gets sick? Who will care for our kids?” He worked in the hospital, and they were preparing for the worst. Continue reading

Six Precious Words

you never know what comes through that door... (photo from Italy, 2014)

you never know what will come through that door…
(photo from Italy, 2014)

A knock on the door interrupted my lunch.

“Soapie? They’re calling downstairs. Someone can’t breathe.”

Standing up, I swallowed my last bite then flew down the stairs.

Sweat dripped down his pale face. His chest heaved up and down, as if he were struggling to carry a boulder in his arms. Continue reading

Thawing at the Moon’s Feet

A frozen Charles River, thawing at the moon's feet...

A frozen Charles River

The city skyline twinkled in the deep, dark night. Its light reflected upon the icy waters of the Atlantic.

En route to work, my car scurried around snowbanks from February’s fury. I rushed into the hospital to receive handoff from the off going nurse.

“He’s very fascinating, if you get a chance to chat with him,” my co-nurse reported during shift change.¬†“But the main thing is to watch his breathing. And his wound.”

I scribbled notes and stuffed them into my pocket. “Got it.”

~ ~ ~

His gray hair seemed like it had just been combed. He leaned against a stack of pillows. His skin and lips were pink; his breathing fine. He gave a gentle nod. “Hello.”

I checked his vital signs.¬†“How are you feeling? Any pain?”

“Actually…” he hesitated. Continue reading

Keep on Dancin’

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.

She hesitated.

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.

How far we have come…¬†

Continue reading

To Spend Christmas Alone

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a giant wooden bear. Harajaku, Tokyo.

It’s not so bad, you just need a plan:

1) Start a few weeks early, mailing out¬†cards and gifts in advance. (Just because you can’t be with your friends and family on Christmas Day doesn’t mean you don’t send your season’s greetings.)

2) Go grocery shopping before Christmas Day, because on the day of, the stores will be closed and you’ll be left hungry. Since you’ll be alone, there ain’t no one to cook for you but yourself. (And if you don’t know how to cook, maybe it’s a good time to start learning..)

On Monday and Tuesday I had to work as usual. It was a cold and rainy evening commute. Without an umbrella, I couldn’t walk to the full service grocery store (aka ‘Whole Paycheck’) so I walked to a nearby store and picked up ham, green beans, and mashed potatoes. Unfortunately they didn’t have real potatoes or fresh green beans so I was obligated to buy boxed potatoes and prewashed green beans. Don’t judge. =P¬†¬†

3) All the love you would have given to your friends and family- give to your neighbors and those around you instead. 

The reason why I couldn’t spend Christmas with my family is because Continue reading