The PathRegister Today!
- by End Game RN Nov 24, '07The Path
of smoke and ashes
It was the end of Nurses' week 2007; I had just parked in the North garage and was heading toward the hospital. I walked down the short set of stairs leading to the cobblestone path in front of me. I looked towards the West, drawn by the unusual orange glow streaking across the late afternoon sky; following the curve of the Earth. The sun continued its descent silhouetting the wisps of the pale grey smoke that had been drifting down from the North where the fires were still burning.
I stared at the pale yellow orange orb, watching as the ashes and smoke drifted in on the breeze creating a kaleidoscope of colors, ever changing, illuminating the seemingly endless horizon. I could see the reflection of the glow painting the cobblestone path where I now stood. Unable to look away, staring, I could feel a part of me separate from my corporeal self. I embraced my new found emptiness
Nothing seemed real, a dreamscape lay in front of me, in me, possessing what was left of me. As I looked on from outside myself, I saw the body of a small bird a few yards from me, unmoving, on my path.
Drawn to this still, small creature, walking over to it, bending, then kneeling beside it, I stretched out my hand picking it up, cupping this tiny bird as I stood; lifting it off the path. It lay very still, eyes open, not yet sunken back into its head. Its body warm in my hand as I said a silent prayer. The feathers lifting and moved slightly with the warm breeze. I gently touched this bird, measuring it's length with my middle finger, caressing it, touching the head and the body, manipulating the wings and the legs. It was obvious that this soul had recently passed. For a long moment I was sure that this perfect creature was alive, yet in the same instant I knew that it was as dead as I was, accepting our shared fate. The sounds of the city, the hospital, or any one individual walking past me faded into nothingness as I stood holding the bird. There was no longer and I or me or sense of self.
From a distance I heard some one speak to me, directly to me, surprising because this was the first time in several minutes that I found myself connected to another person. I turned around and saw a man standing on my path looking at me, still talking. I held the bird out in my hand so he could see what I had and how beautiful it was in death. He seemed to know who I was, he told me I shouldn't have picked up the dead bird, that it could have died from disease, he mentioned bird flu or any number of reasons a wild bird would die suddenly. This man was someone I should have recognized immediately but I couldn't place him or understand how he fit into my life. I was once again aware of self and where I was and why I was here, standing on the cobblestone path on my way into the hospital where I work.
Faintly insulted by his statement that this bird could have died from bird flu or any other avian diseases; I told him to look at the bird, how healthy it appeared. I told him that there wasn't any evidence of visible injury to it's body, whatever had killed it must have been something other than disease or trauma. I also told him that concluding that bird flu was a possibility was not something I could take seriously. I still could not identify this man, knowing I should know him. I knew I had worked with him in our ICU. I thought that he must be one of the physicians I worked with. He continued speaking; He told me that where his sister lives a number of birds had just fallen from the sky in mid flight and that no one knew why.
After a few more minute of conversation, puzzled by my inability to identify this man, I continued to study him hoping that something he would say or do would provide me with a clue as to who he was. He said goodbye, continuing on his way.
I buried my bird beneath well kept bushes just beneath the mulch. I touched this bird one more time and said goodbye.
As I left the path, stepping onto the sidewalk leading into the hospital, I suddenly realized that I knew this man I knew his name. I turned around, looking at his back as he walked toward the parking garage. I whispered his name softly, the words meaningless as soon as I said them. Unaware of my profound revelation, he continued walking.
That same evening after I had gone home, I spent time looking for information about sudden unexplained bird fatalities. I found that the fires from the North, spreading smoke as far South as the Upper Keys, brought down by favorable winds; caused the birds to die, their fragile lungs unable to cope with the smoke.
The next day I approached this physician as he made rounds with his team in our ICU. I told him that the cause of the unexplained bird deaths was the smoke from the still burning fires in the North of the State. I called him by name without hesitation or confusion. He told me that he too had learned what had killed these birds. It seems that he did some research, or more than lilkely spoke with his sister again.
Nurses' week came and went. Months later, now November, I have yet to speak again with this attending. Polite nods, brief smiles as we pass each other in the hallways, communicating only when discussing one of his patient's in our unit, never bringing up our shared experience on late afternoon in May.
Odd how our paths cross, human, animal, life and death. Never knowing the one path we will take until we come to it, our souls finally freed to ride the winds of smoke and ashes.
Eeka End Game RN
October 26, 2007
Last edit by End Game RN on Nov 24, '07 : Reason: forgot an ing, spelled smoke wrong
Print and share with friends and family.
Compliments of allnurses.com.
http://allnurses.com/showthread.php?t=263525©2013 allnurses.com INC. All Rights Reserved.
APA Style Citation
End Game RN. (Nov 24, '07). The Path. Retrieved Saturday, May 25, 2013, from http://allnurses.com/showthread.php?t=263525
- Mar 10, '08 by valkyriathat story speaks to the basic difference between md and rn. we are both on the same path but we see things through very different eyes. neither is wrong or right, just different. i have spoken to a few mds who started out as rns and they had a heck of a time until they looked at patients through the eyes of a nurse and not the eyes of a doctor. does that make sense? do you agree?