“Help bear each other’s burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ." ~ Galatians 6:2
She was a person of uncommon gifts, like a bird in flight making something seemingly impossible appear easy and natural. On the ward Nurse Miller calmed patients deemed "difficult" by other nurses. One glance at her ivory skin against a stylish black uniform and their respirations eased to a more relaxed rhythm.
Miller never hurt them, never became impatient or belittled their pains, physical or otherwise. She spoke to them like they were still vibrant people, people who mattered, not just withered old bones too stubborn to die any faster.
When the cancer claimed her patient Ellie, she was skin and bones. Her ghostly face struggled to mask the torment inside. Most days she asked Nurse Miller to read her a story, something whimsical to help her mind escape. But the process of dying was more cruel than any fiction she'd ever read. The pain would be with her until the end; everyday a battle not to lose hope.
On this morning, Miller’s gaze fell on Ellie with the warmth of an adoring daughter’s eyes. “How are you doing this morning, dear lady,” she asked in a deep yet honeyed voice.
“Sing me a song please,” Ellie pleaded, “something sweet, ok?
The nurse was taken aback. She’d never sung in ‘public.’ No song immediately came to mind. Need your help here Jesus she muttered to herself just before a thought came to mind.
Miller tenderly caressed Ellie’s hand and started singing Dani and Lizzy’s “Dancing in the Sky,” a song Ellie had mentioned that she wanted sung at her funeral.
Ellie began singing along, pausing in the middle of the song to wipe away her tears.
“Oh, I, I hope you’re dancing in the sky
And I hope you’re singing in the angel’s choir
And I hope the angels know what they have
I’ll bet it’s so nice up in heaven since you arrived.”
Soon she grew too weak to continue singing, so Nurse Miller sang on her own. Ellie’s body seemed to surrender, perhaps sensing the closeness of her Creator and sliding her into a serenity no amount of morphine could have achieved.
The song they shared together was exactly what Ellie needed during the last minutes of her life.
Nurses are God’s angels on earth. Without them, patients are lost, often scared, confused and completely alone. They seem omnipresent - no matter the time of night or how petty the request. They hold a hand if needed, share a newspaper when sought, explain what is often unclear and disorienting, and even sing upon special request. It’s a beautiful thing when a career and passion come together.
Healing Lord, give them strength to face the days ahead, and courage when assisting each aching heart. Give them wisdom with every word they speak, and patience to comfort the sick and frail. Finally, please give them assurance that they’ve given their best and done what’s right. Amen