Bright Reds and Flashing Sirens


A different view of the inner city. Spring 2019.

A whirlwind of colors whizzed outside my desk window. They were the bright reds of fire trucks and the dizzying, flashing sirens of ambulances.

Is it safe to walk to my car? 

Usually I don’t feel anxious about my commute, despite working in the “rough” side of town.  But those emergency vehicles had lingered for quite some time.

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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

Fresh Fridays: Great Expectations

“So what do you want to be when you grow up?” I asked, my eyes focused on the vaccine and supplies in my hands.

“An R.N.” he replied, without hesitation.

I paused and looked up.

The 14 year old stared back at me, just waiting.

“An RN?” I asked (as if I needed clarification). I felt guilty for expecting him to answer a football player.  Usually when I asked teen boys what their plans were after high school, they almost always said they wanted to play football.

Because they assume it’s their only ticket out of poverty. Living in the ghetto and attending failing schools, no one else has told them otherwise. Continue reading

HighFives and Heartache

a sunset that lights our feet on fire

a sunset that lights our feet on fire

Shortly after sunset, the dance began.

We hovered together, huddled in clusters around the floor.  In a quick, steady, tempo, we recited the day’s events, and the things to come. A murmur, slightly above a whisper, so patients and families walking by could not hear the secret exchange- our passing off from one nurse to another, during shift change. With too much to do and too little time, we spoke in acronyms, in voice and dance.

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It’s a Good Calling, then…

One panel featured during the "More Than a Number" Exhibit featuring the stories of Cambodian Genocide Survivors. 2012.

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

What’s the Best Part About…

“the prettiest thing you’ll ever see…”

I’m gonna sing this song
To let you know that you’re not alone
And if you’re like me
You need hope, coffee, and melody

So sit back down
Let the world keep spinning ‘round
For yesterday’s gone and today is
waiting on you to show your face

“…being a nurse?” my patient’s husband asked me.

I hesitated. Continue reading

We be the Only ones

The lush hills along Hana Highway

The lush hills along Hana Highway

“So you’re a nurse in the hospital?” he asked, biting into his appetizer.

We were at a dinner celebrating the accomplishments of some pretty amazing people, all affiliated with the hospital. Thus, it wasn’t surprising he assumed I worked there too.

“I am, but now I work in the community full time,” I explained.

He blinked, a bit bewildered.

“When people lose their job, become uninsured, and they’re forced to go to a different clinic because their old doctor only takes private insurance, it’s not their fault, you know? Or when refugees are resettled in the States and they’re traumatized from war, can’t speak English, and get lost in the healthcare system, they need a place to go that understands them. Or the at risk, teen mothers who might not be able to afford the best hospital around….to me, I think they still deserve to have the best healthcare.  Because if they can’t afford the best, or it’s unaccessible to them, then you have to go to them, to be where they are.”  Well, that’s the way I see it.

“We need more people like you,” he nodded, like he understood it. Or seemed to.

Shrug. Continue reading

Fresh Fridays: You handle snow well

I couldn’t see.  Gobs of ice clung to my glasses and flew into my eyes. Condensation made it worse, my exhalations into my scarf fogged up my lenses.  Oh if only glasses had miniature windshield wipers!

Two weeks ago, a winter storm took us by surprise. It was a horrendous morning commute. I was only a few steps away from the front door, but struggling to move forward. The wind gusts blew cold and fierce, the snow horizontal. I stumbled a bit, Continue reading