The Strength of a Vow
When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. -unknown strength
I took the elevator up to the unit I would be working in on this particular day. I sauntered over to the nurses’ station in my black scrubs with much less than a smile on my face due to my early rising of 5am and my inadequate coffee consumption. The nurse states that I will be in a particular room for the day. She also says “good luck, that lady is absolutely crazy”. Now for those of you who don’t know what I do for a living, I am a Patient Safety Assistant (PSA). I sit (literally) with psychotic/suicidal patients who are at risk for hurting themselves. So yes, Ms-know-it-all-nurse, I’m sure she is probably not the most mentally stable.
I walk into the room and the frail seventy-something-year -old woman is in her bed weeping softly. This is not an unfamiliar site for me, considering my line of work. However, one thing did catch my eye. A tarnished silver frame with a picture of what I could tell to be her 40 something years ago and what I could assume to be her husband. I get report from the African American PSA before me who says thank God you are white because this lady is a mean, racist psycho path. Thus far, I am not excited about my day, whatsoever.
I walk over to sit in the chair next to her bed where she is still sobbing and wait for the other PSA to leave. I softly ask this woman if she would like to order breakfast. She sits up in her bed and takes the menu from me. She begins explaining she would like to order two meals, one for her and one for her husband. I told her that her husband wasn’t here. Her reply was “he will be here at 8, sweetie”. I humored her and ordered the two meals, and at no later than 8:01 a skinny grey haired man, who resembled the man in the silver picture frame, walked into the room. He walks over and sits on the other side of her bed and grabs her hand. She stops sobbing and I see a smile come from her wrinkled lips. The man continues speaking to her in a soft calm voice, but dares to inform her that she will not be coming home for awhile. She begins screaming at him saying the most horrible things, he doesn’t react at all. He simply looks at me and says “she hasn’t always been like this, she doesn’t mean it”. The nurses come into the room and say that he should leave, he refuses. He said “This is my wife of 57 years, I made a vow. In sickness and in health, till death do us part. I am not leaving her side until one of you drag me out”. His wife continues to spew insults and curse words at him. All the while he is still holding her hand.
This day taught me two things. One being that you can NEVER judge a person on previous accounts of said person. This lady was scared and mentally unstable, not mean. The second thing that I learned was that love is messy and truly knows no boundaries. I see so many couples, young and old, get together and break up over things that are much less than what this couple has gone through. 57 years together, and despite the fact that his wife is in capable hands at our hospital, he comes to visit, every day at 8am. Truly a beautiful sight. Despite the woman talking in circles, the crying, the yelling, he comes every day.
Marriage is scary with the 50% divorce rate we currently have in our country. I can only hope to have a marriage like that couple. Hopefully not one where one of us ends up in a psychotic state, but one where we could look beyond that, and still see each other as the young careless souls we fell in love with. I will expect him to be able to forgive and understand all of my flaws and I, his. That is what love is. Today my heart is heavy for this couples situation. Today I pray hard for them, even though it is obvious that they are already blessed beyond measure.