Today I helped my brother celebrate his birthday with Key Lime Pie in my mother's hospital room. The pie was great but I really felt horrible about not being able to offer my mom a bite--she's not allowed any food by mouth right now, so she had to enjoy it vicariously.
She's glad we're here. I'm glad we're here. We're not really doing much--sitting around the hospital for hours on end, entertaining her when she's awake, doing what we can to help her be comfortable.
Every time a nurse comes in to take a blood pressure or hang an IV, I think about all the years Mom worked as an RN in this very hospital, a tiny, quiet woman who could gently and competently keep track of the needs of multiple patients or even climb on top of a patient and thump on his chest if he needed CPR. She never wore scrubs but preferred the white nursing uniform and white shoes and stockings, her stiff little hat perched on top as a mark of professionalism, a token of her ability to guide patients through their darkest hours.
Her nurses remind me of a younger Mom--in blue scrubs and sneakers and no stiff starched hats, true, but gentle and competent and ready to provide any comfort Mom might require. (Except Key Lime Pie. Strictly off limits.)