When I worked at Long Beach Memorial Medical Center before my first stint in Haiti, there was a saying: “That’s the Memorial Way.” It was used by staff when things were a little janky or illogical or we didn’t have the staffing or resources we needed to provide excellent patient care. I took it upon myself, my young idealistic self, to change the connotation behind the phrase. I decided it would be a declaration of pride in our work and our team. I made a bulletin board on our floor where we could write encouraging notes about other staff members and the good work we saw them doing and post them for patients, visitors, and other staff to see. I think the project faded out after I left the first time and I doubt the new meaning really caught on.
But I’ve been counting down the months, then the weeks, and now the shifts (one left!) until I am done working at Long Beach Memorial. It has gotten progressively harder as I get closer to the end because my head and my heart are already in Haiti with our kids and in some ways I’m just biding my time before we leave. It’s not that I don’t like working at the hospital, I just know I belong somewhere else, you know?
So last night I got in the car after work and was surprised when I started crying. Not just sniffling, but wretched, guttural sobbing that didn’t stop until I was nearly home. My last move to Haiti happened so quickly—one month from being asked to getting on a plane—that I hardly had time to recognize what I was leaving behind. But this; this was sorrow and grief wracking my whole body.
I will miss you.
You who took an hour to wash the caked blood from the young woman’s hair
You who always spoke gently to your patients and their families
You who shared funny or interesting stories to make a slow shift pass more quickly
You who were always honest and blunt, so we knew exactly where you stood
You who shared your knowledge without belittling others
You who carefully guided our patients in regaining their strength and independence
You who answered your PerfectServe texts in a timely manner
You who shared your beliefs with such conviction
You who made the most of a difficult day just by deciding it would be a good day
You who saw the big picture and always made the pieces of the puzzle fit together
You who saw potential in me and challenged me to be a better nurse and leader
You who treated everyone fairly and respectfully
You who quietly took care of our patients without fanfare or complaining
You who asked about my husband during the many months we were apart
You who hugged me through the most difficult days of being a nurse
You who always lent a hand when another nurse was overwhelmed
You who took the time to be patient
You who believed in me and encouraged me to follow God’s calling in my life
You who have given so generously to our kids in Haiti
You who found ways to get medicine and medical equipment we badly needed
You are the Memorial Way.
That is the Memorial Way.
I am awful at goodbyes. Really awful. But these people, these nurses and aides and therapists and managers and doctors, they are the people I spend the most time with after my immediate family. They are not perfect, but they are my Memorial family. I wish I could say goodbye to each of them in person but I hope they know how much I love them, appreciate them, and am indebted to them for making me the nurse and the person I am today. After living in Haiti for two years, you all welcomed me back to the family with open arms, and I am forever grateful. We’d love to return the favor by hosting some of you in our home in Haiti, where we will make good use of your time helping our amazing kids 😉