How does anyone keep going through insurmountable difficulties? We’re talking the really big stuff. The stuff that can’t be fixed with chocolate (gasp) or a pitcher of margaritas or a box of tissues and a friend’s slobbered-on shoulder. We’re talking the ‘I don’t think I could ever get through it and I have no clue how they do’ type of situation.
Many of you have been in that trench. For my friends in healthcare, you’re in the front row seat and sidecar of other people’s unimaginable lives much more often than the rest of us.
It’s not easy being the observer, either.
News reports from the last two weeks play around and around in my head, like a hamster on a wheel. I don’t know that my thinking is getting me anywhere, but that lil’ hamster is smoking up the place.
Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords’ husband Mark Kelly is a marvel. How does he keep rollin’?
He notices and applauds those who have a hand in his wife’s recovery. He repeatedly mentions Gabby’s professional caregivers, specifically her nurses. “I also want to thank her…ICU nurses that have attended to her around the clock.”
Seriously, would we blame him if he was a might too distracted to notice or show gratitude? Uh, hello.
One of those nurses, Tracy Colbert, noticed, in addition to her patient’s vital signs, her patient’s humanness. “She is a very gentle person. Her personality is coming out with her touches…the way she looks at us. I’m very lucky to know her.”
And Gabby herself. How does she silently inspire?
Mark Kelly, Tracy Colbert, and Gabby know the secret to moving through the impossible. Mark summed it up in talking about the people who have made a difference.
“The love and support that we have received is a bit overwhelming… But we are very appreciative. And I want to apologize for all of those folks that have done so much for us that we haven’t recognized yet. I know one of the first things Gabby is going to want to do as soon as she is able to is start writing “thank you” notes, and I have already reminded her of that.”
There’s a sweet absurd comicalness in thinking of the seriously injured person – and her loved one – feeling the need to write thank you notes, and apologizing for their delay. And yet, it shows the depths of gratitude toward others that transcends the trauma. Gratitude for those who help us get through the mess weighs more than the help itself.
If we can find a tiny dose of funny, a micro-spec of humor that makes the corners of our mouths turn up unexpectedly, that’s when we’re often at our most resilient. We need that laugh, however small, in the midst of really big seriousness. We’re grateful for the break in the somber scene, and grateful to those who provide it, however they do it.
Be someone’s needed mouth-corner-turner-upper today, for Gabby, won’t you?
This article appeared originally in The Journal of Nursing Jocularity. Published on IDA with permission.