The Writing On The Stone
When I was a nurse, I had a number of strict routines I followed every shift. For example, I used certain pens for different types of documentation. A vital part of my toolbox was a Sharpee marker; it was used to mark the bag number of the IV fluids I was hanging, the rate and the time I hung it. Yes, I had many little habits that I abided by during the years I worked in a hospital, and there was an absolute reason why I did this.
If you are a nurse, especially if you’ve been in the field for five years or less, never deviate from the way in which you perform each procedure. Due to the fact that I worked in trauma, I have been deposed a number of times. I, myself, have never been personally named in a lawsuit, but there have been many times that my care was under testimony. After my first experience in court, I learned the legal aspects I needed to in order to protect myself.
The legal process was stressful, but I could bank that it would go the same way every time. They would ask me about how I performed a certain intervention, then proceed to ask one simple question: “Ms. McLeod, other than documentation, how do you know you performed this procedure in that exact manner?” to which I’d respond, “Because, I do it the same way every single time.” I don’t remember the name of the nurse that taught me this, but it was the single best piece of advice I had ever received throughout my entire career.
Routines have saved me more than a couple of times during my nursing years, and some of these habits have even bled into my personal life. In fact, I still feel the need to carry a Sharpee with me, however, now it’s used for an entirely different purpose. I started writing little notes on the gravestones of the ones I love following the death of my sister, Bonnie. I wrote to my brother after his unfortunate demise in a plane crash only a few years later, and in the last year, I started writing to my mother, as well.
My mom’s stone is nearly covered with my writing. One day, I went out and read them. Like a diary, they told of various landmarks in my life. I read about the anger I held regarding my sister over the holidays; about how my uncle passed away only 6 months after my mother. I told her about my dad’s engagement, our walks, and his dreams about her.
As I read, I became a little ashamed about the hostility that was ruling me. I was sad that there were far more complaints than loving messages. Would I really want this to be the record of my feelings if for some reason I never returned? Would this make her proud?
Today, I bought a bottle of granite cleaner. Later, along with some coffee and flowers, I will wash away the negativity and replace it with only the best things I can remember my loved-ones by. Yes, I will start a new routine of kindness. Then, if I get asked how I know I tried my hardest, I’ll say with confidence, “Because I did it this way every single time.”
Thank you for the numerous notes of encouragement and support - this post is dedicated to you. Let’s talk again tomorrow. I’ll bring the coffee. -Ruth