Truthfully, it is impossible to put into words much of what I experience as a chaplain. This series is an attempt.
Today, I saw your daughter’s brain. With her depressed skull fracture. Where the crushed bones and matted hair opened up into the space that makes her who she is. She came in wearing rhinestone jeans, a grey satin bra, and a sheet soaked through with blood. Blood filling the stretcher. I want you to know that I saw her purple painted toenails. I want you to know that I saw your daughter. I saw a teenage girl.
I waited at the doors of the emergency room to meet you when you arrived. I saw you and your wife and your son running across the parking lot. I knew it was you. I felt your desperation. I saw it in your eyes. I heard it in your voice. I felt it in your hands when I took them into mine.
I want you to know that I saw your beautiful daughter. I prayed for her in the midst of the trauma room. And though my surgical booties and gown and mask and cap covered me and made me look like any other person in that room, my only job was to hold the hope of her soul. To will her into staying with us.
And as I stripped off my surgical attire, to meet you in the emergency room, I meet you like I would want to meet someone if I was in your position. Calm, kind, exuding gentle strength. A guide to accompany you through this hostile foreign land where you never wanted to be. To hold your hand and bring you cool water and saltines after you throw up in the wastebasket in this tiny and airless room. And to let you know with my presence that I will go with you wherever you need to go.
I’m a chaplain. A nurse for the spirit and the soul.