Parents react in vastly different ways when their children are in pain.
Some parents become quiet and withdrawn—they don’t talk much and don’t make eye contact. These parents seem to focus all of their energy into willing their children to become well.
A few parents can’t bear to see their children right after surgery. Instead of heading into the ICU, they wait in the hallway until their child looks a little less fragile.
Some parents have a lot of questions, which is good! On the other hand they can take a huge amount of time and energy—not to mention drive you a little crazy. But, as one volunteer nurse put it, “It’s our job to educate and assuage their fears, even if that means working through a translator, pointing and miming, drawing pictures, or doing whatever it takes to communicate what is happening with their child—they deserve to know.”
And sometimes you get a child and parent who are just a complete joy to have around, and this mission that child is Norea. Her name means “from the light” in Arabic, a name she lives up to.
Norea’s mom seemed to come “from the light” too! A natural nurturer, Norea’s mom mothered the entire floor.
Before surgery, when her tiny daughter was waiting her turn in the ward, she made friends with all of the other mothers. She offered comfort and an openness that allowed them to shoulder their shared fear together.
In the ICU, where Norea spent a lot of time, Norea’s mom spent countless hours by her daughter’s bedside. But she also made regular visits throughout the day to encourage other mothers still waiting for their child’s turn at surgery. She encouraged other parents in the ICU whose kids were slow to heal like Norea, and celebrated with those who healed quickly. When kids returned with their parents for a check-up after being discharged, she was the first to smile and welcome them back.
Norea’s mom made time to go out and buy liquid hand soap for the families in the ICU when she saw there was only an icky shared bar by the sink. She brewed and delivered coffee on the floor when she sensed someone needed a pick-me-up.
We were standing beside each other, “talking” as we did throughout the day with a few shared words and gestures, when a heavy tank of oxygen fell through a glass panelled door nearby. On pure instinct, we clung to each other when we heard the loud impact, then burst into laughter in each other’s arms. And we laughed together every time we revisited the story over the following days.
At some point during Norea’s stay, a note from her mom, to the doctors and nurses, quietly appeared in the ICU. “Great thanks for your kind care”.
I can say the same back to her…thank you for your kind care of us.