by Tonia R. Blair, a member of Get Your Wordsworth
It was the Wednesday between the third night of Passover and Easter Sunday. The light coming in from the one narrow hospital window was gradually fading. I was sitting in the wheelchair by my bed contemplating the black brace around my left leg, beginning at the ankle and extending up all the way to the hip.
I had been in the hospital since Friday the 30th of March. My New York son, his wife and their two children were in Costa Rica on their log-planned Spring vacation. My California son had flown in early Sunday, the day before Passover began, to spend the holidays with me. We were planning to go to his friend’s house for the first Passover dinner then on Tuesday, the second Passover night, we had tickets to the 92nd Street Y for Kabbalat Seder. Instead, we spent the first Passover dinner at the hospital, which provided me with a box of matzos and a plate of symbolic Passover food items. That afternoon my son was busy getting food for Morning Glory, my cat, sorting the mail, watering the plants. I was alone in the room reconstructing for the umpteenth time the accident that had befallen me on that fateful Thursday, March 29, in front of the 112th St. Post Office. I was rushing to mail a letter to Italy that needed to be insured and mailed out before Saturday. While I was looking for the American flag which indicated the entrance for the Post Office, I tripped over a covered area on the sidewalk that was being repaired.
I sat there in the dim light of my hospital room, enveloped in gloom, disheartened by the events of the last few days. Weighted down by the heaviness of my fractured leg, I was still wondering how it had happened so soon after the first accident, which occurred in January. I was getting more depressed when a knock at the door startled me. A tall, striking-looking woman with a chignon and wrapped in a black chiffon scarf, a lovely face and warm smile appeared.
“Hi, do you remember me?” She asked.
She did look familiar so I thought she was the nurse from eighth-floor hospital room where I had been for three days before being transferred to the intensive rehab place.
“No,” she said, “I’m the Emergency Room nurse.”
“Of course,” I said. “How very nice of you to come to visit me.”
She was in her street clothes so I hadn’t recognized her immediately. I would have never mistaken her in the working outfit, with a dozen silver necklaces covering her chest, innumerable silver bracelets on her wrists, two to three silver rings adorning each finger, plus dangling silver earrings.
The Emergency Room nurse was a wonderful, hard-working nurse. She had given me morphine shots twice. Disappearing, then coming back with a tetanus injection. Appearing to bring me a bedpan, bestowing her beautiful, warm smile on me, assuring me of being well soon. At one point during my ER stay, she noticed the Star of David around my neck. I told her I wear my whole family on my heart all the time. She carefully took the chain off and read the tiny, engraved names of my father, my mother, my sister, my little brother, the place and date of their demise. She put the events together, amazing me with her awareness of the Holocaust. She gave me a warm hug and brought me cool, fresh water.
She wore multiple chains and bangles; yet we agreed on our preference for silver jewelry as opposed to gold.
From Thursday at 5:30 in the afternoon until Friday noon I was in the Emergency Room before the hospital had an available bed for me.
And there in my room, the Emergency Room nurse stood in front of me. “I felt connected to you,” she said. I was flattered. I also had a special feeling for this wonderful nurse. She had to rush off to work, she informed me. She worked the night shift only. I wished her a not too difficult night. The nurse came closer, she embraced me – we hugged. As she stood up, she pulled out from her oversized, black bag a beautiful, life-sized stuffed white rabbit with beady black eyes holding a magic wand in its front paws. The rabbit looked so alive, so cuddly, so comforting. Placing the rabbit in my lap and handing me a box of chocolates, “Happy Easter,” she uttered, waved once again, leaving me in the darkened room. I hugged the rabbit close to me, wondering in amazement at the compassion of the Emergency Room nurse who, with her warmth and generosity had comforted my soul and lifted my spirits.