A year has passed and I still wish I’ve become a widow. A year is long enough for a reason to celebrate love and its (still) presence. But with grievance and lost, a year is not too long ago.
A lot has been taken, many have been lost.
I’m still coping with the changes in my system. The walls are still white, the syringes are still as sharp, but the waiting time is not so long anymore. I thought a year ago I was to adjust by now, already with a stable set of friends, a permanent seat at the canteen, a reserved parking spot. The good thing though is the guard knows my name, “Good morning Nurse Nadia!”, he would smile ironically at the hospital entrance. He was a little young man that reminds me of my teenage son. I would gladly smile back at him. Then it’s the official start of my night shift.
“Nurse Nadia, how are you? I heard you were sick these past few days?”, Janice, the clingy intern greeted me. She’s got a hot cup of coffee halfway empty on her left hand with the right on my shoulders. I know she’s having a hard time adjusting too with our head nurse Silvia who is always breathing at our necks. Silvia never liked me; she thinks I’m a no good to her and the hospital. It adds to her enraged ego that I was the head nurse of the small clinic in our subdivision before I transferred. I heard her murmur once to the other effeminate nurse of her same age, “She’s too young to be head nurse! Even of a clinic!”, she grumbled and flashed her sharp eyes at me. That was my second day I recalled.
“Nadia, thank God you’re fine now! How are you, do you feel dizzy? Is it too soon for you to work? I think it’s too soon! Have you regained your strength?”, Tina, the only genuine friend I have gained in my year here, excitedly welcomed me. She’s always that giddy, sometimes I ask myself how I became friends with her in the first place, were too different. Tina is the only exception to the rule but she doesn’t disprove my belief that two different people could never work. Even with the strenuous efforts.
“It’s been a drag the three days you were away, I wanted to come by and check on you but since I’m covering for your shift and”, she lowered her voice and made that face that were about to bitch out, “let’s not forget THE psycho-nurse disapproves my request for early end of shift.”
I chuckled a little and replied with a dry voice, “It’s fine Tina, I understand and thank you by the way. I’ll treat you coffee later don’t worry!”
“I think the intern needs it more than I do.”, Tina chinned. “She needs some more energy boost to kiss up to Silvia.” We both laughed like embarrassed teenagers.
“Well’, I cleared my throat, “Jacob and Hannah came visit. I don’t know who told them I was sick. They brought oranges and apples. Last night they slept at my apartment since it was a Saturday. It felt different when they took care of me. Different, but in a good way. I don’t know, when I closed my eyes, it felt like I was home.”
Tina puts her serious face on. When she becomes serious, she’s extremely serious especially with our conversations about our motherhood. “It’s a good thing Harold allowed them.” She focused on me and placed her hand on mine. We both smiled. Tina understood perfectly how I missed being a mother.
“Excuse me, Nurse Nadia, Nurse Tina, head nurse calls you on the ER.”, Janice awkwardly interrupted.
“It’s about time, some action on this idle wing!”, Tina shifted sarcastically. “I told you Nadia, it’s been a drag without you here.”
The only thing I have adjusted to was the busier halls, the more demanding need for assistance, the more serious cases of patients, the bigger white rooms, and a better salary. But my mind has not become clearer knowing I’m two hospitals farther away from my kids. What if they needed my aid? What if they called for me if they, God forbid, have an accident, be burning with fever, or whatever emergency? I choked every time I realize this. There was not a time I did not think about them.
I walked bigger steps down the hall. The fluorescent lights reflect on the gray-white marble floor. I was reminded why I transferred. I needed to save up so that the day would come I would be as or more financially able than my wretched husband. I despise his name or even to call him my husband. On my transfer in this hospital, I denounce his surname and used my maiden name instead. That helped me through, a little.
I entered the emergency room and the guard who greets me every beginning of my night shift, pointed me to the room on my left. I attended to the patient enthusiastically; it feels my first day again. It flashes back how Hannah who was only 12, patiently and carefully wiped a towel soaked on lukewarm water on my forehead as she smiles and softly assures me, “Mommy you’ll feel better soon I know, I’m your nurse now and Kuya too.”, she warmly smiled at me. “Mommy,”, her face turned tear-jerking, “when will you come home? Daddy sometimes talks about you. We miss you a lot.” Hannah’s voice still rings. Oh how pure and innocent my daughter is.
I asked the standard questions to the patient without looking at his face. I was checking for wounds, fractures, or any visible causes of pain. “Hypertension.”, the patient softly replied. A chill ran down my spine and spread to my extremities as the familiar voice engulfed me. I was numb, I’m aware the second I saw Tina rushing to the corridor. I couldn’t move and call her for a trade. I just stared at the clock that says 2:34. Mother of Sorrow, right below the clock looks at me with compassion. The windows were tight sealed but I felt the chilled air of dawn outside. I knew who the patient was.
“You should have just gone to St. Joseph hospital, or Our Lady of Fatima 5 streets away from here, closer to your house. Or the clinic in the subdivision. It’s just hypertension.”, I wanted my voice to sound colder than how I feel but it sounded lukewarm, not even.
“I told Jacob to drive here instead. I was avoiding conflicts with you. You didn’t tell us you where you transferred so,”
“So you made Jacob drove farther assuming I transferred to a hospital still near the kids! What do you think I’ll let you die if ever I’ll be your attending nurse?!”, I heard myself almost screaming at him. Harold was just silent. I attended to him.
“I didn’t see Jacob, where is he? Is Hannah with you too?”, I hated myself I sound so calm. What are the chances I would be the one healing him? I’m the first person in this planet who wanted him dead! I cuffed him and grasped the bulb.
He looked weak, pale, and as if a year made him aged that much. I felt somewhere beneath me a grumble of pity. Here I am curing a man who stole my youth, my dreams of becoming a doctor, my plans of living the bachelorette life. He took everything too soon. I kept pumping the bulb.
“Jacob is waiting in the car. Mama looks after Hannah who’s sleeping when we left.”, he answered weakly and tilted his head back with dizziness.
All the unpleasant things I plan to do to him, all the things I wish he could have just done. But he was too much of a coward to admit his own wretchedness he chose and just swallowed his saliva of apologies. I could just spit at his face with such distaste! It enrages me the idea of that woman! that home wrecker stealing my role nurturing and caring for the man I swore I’ll only love. I hurt a hundred more times as I empathize with my children, our children experiencing this kind of injustice of fate. It’s all Harold’s fault!
The manometer rises.
If not for me then just for the children. He’s ignorant of sacrifices. What kind of father is he! I felt my ears red with the rush of disgusting images that flashes my imagination of what Harold and that woman do! My fingers grip tightens every pump. I’m about to burst with this outrageous scenario!
“Harold, you’re a terrible person!”, my voice is low but intense enough for him to hear and understand. “You’re a failure as a father! You don’t understand sacrifice because you let your family suffer your immature pursuit of your desire, no, your lust!”, I paused and focused my eyes on the meter while my ears on the snap. “If ever that woman of yours bore a child, I swear to God, I swear to the good Lord..”
Janice the intern interrupted, “Mr. Rosario your wife is safe now. The baby too is safe.”
I released the air valve and set down the stethoscope. My eyes are flaring with anger. I thought I saw in Harold’s apologetic eyes struggling to meet mine. It wasn’t stronger than this indignation. I mechanically stood up and checked the paper. The header reads ‘Mother of Sorrow General Hospital’, I read all the way down.
I heard nothing other than a prolonged ringing in my ears. But the halls are busy now with people being rushed in, nurses running, paging doctors over the p.a., some sobbing. I stood still as a statue with the impious papers still on my hands.
“Mom.”, Jacob said shakily with his hand on my right shoulder as if holding me back. I didn’t notice him enter the room with Janice. I’ve foreseen the next scenes in my head. I waited to feel my limbs. Harold just lies there. I’m not sure how long.