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How to save a life

March 29, 2008

It is not some split second decision or a light bulb going off over your head. It felt like an idea that had always been there but at long last I could acknowledge it and find a way to make it happen. My rationalizations to become a nurse were gradual but solid. I could spend lots of time with my family while they were little and work just a few days at a time and make pretty decent money and as they grew older and were at home less I could work more and start saving for their futures. My husband would have time to paint and not feel pressured to work some shitty job he doesn’t like just so we can make money. Or worse yet, we don’t both have to work shitty jobs and never see each other just to support ourselves.

I have always led this ‘charmed’ life but it was my own choosing. Somehow that notion indicates you have had the fortune of luck that has led you and that isn’t really the case. I choose everything I did and I sought out opportunity. I moved out before I graduated and lived on my own at 18. I worked a lot and made tons of money for a kid of 18-19 but didn’t really travel like I should have. I got a job on a 154 ft gaff topsail schooner and then on a 65 1/2 ft Nautor Swan as a chef. I traveled the US and worked as a nanny because they would take me to Europe. I thought I would get there, hook up with something and quit and just live in Europe. Maybe find a boat to work on again. They did not take me to Europe. They took me to Provincetown where I met my love, my best friend and nemesis. We made two people and lost another. Another was thrown away. All the while my mom got sicker and sicker very quickly.

I knew she would die. I knew it. Everybody dies. But at 52 and so suddenly it was a terrible shock. I had been inspired to become a lawyer because of Seth and our long conversations about the law while he was in school in Syracuse. I was a double major in Philosophy and Public Administration. I have about 60ish credits in that idea. I realized how I did not want to go to school with a bunch of other people who also wanted to be lawyers and I wasn’t really sure if I wanted to be an actual lawyer so it seemed really expensive and time consuming to do something I wasn’t sure of. So this idea of being a nurse crept into my brain and now here I am.

I read about my other nursing school friends and how talk with them and realize how many of us lost someone or watched someone almost die and that was the catalyst to becoming the nursing students we are right now.

It feels weird to start this new career so late in my life and as today is my 37th birthday I am feeling pretty fucking old and ugly and regretting almost every single choice I have ever made.

This karma I have accumulated and have let pile up seems lighter and lighter as help my patients do something seemingly pretty trivial to me but important to them and for some reason that makes me nervous. I think I could save a thousand lives in a year and still not miss my mother any less or wish I could have changed so many things.

That is what is so hard about dying and losing people you care for. You don’t necessarily miss them but you miss the chances you let slip away while they were still here. It is that longing of loss that haunts you and seeps into your present in unpleasant ways. The long run I am happy to save someone elses mother some where down the line but I will mourn right along with the daughter whose mother I could not help save. Maybe my desire to save someone should be focused more on my own life. Try to save my own life.

But that would be way too practical and smart, two qualities I lack most of the time. So happy birthday to me and my mother who grew me out of thin air and made me who I am today.

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