When I was a 21 year old young lady, fresh from Nursing school with one year of experience under my belt I moved from Orlando, Florida to Highlands,NC. A huge change in my life, leaving lots of friends my age and moving to a retirement community in the mountains. I was dying on the vine. There was one other young nurse...the first time I met her she was laying over a patients bed with the patient draped over her like a mink. She was ambulating the post-op patient when he decided to just lay down, and down on the bed they went. She was a consummate professional, so getting caught by the administrator and myself "laying" down on the job embarrassed her and she shrugged me off. I had already decided that we would be friends much to her disagreement. One cold winter after I knocked on her front door until she let me in, I had seen her spying from the upstairs window to see if I was still there...."C-A-R-o-L let me in!" She tells me that I was like a stray cat out there yelling until she let me in. She was fully dressed with a thick cotton robe over top of her clothes, her house was cold; I complained and she showed me to the door....that was day one, but I got in and she never turned me away after that. She later told me I was the sunshine that showed all the dirt on her tabletop. Our friendship was even the demise of her closet- boyfriend the one that was such a red neck that she could not bring her Miami self to introduce him to her friends. We would hang out at her house, drink wine, she was also a closet-smoker, and she tired of hiding all the ash trays from me.
I called Carol the other day to meet me and my children at Cliffside Lake in Highlands, as we wanted to escape the heat of the summer with the spring fed lake. Carol will always drop what she is doing and meet me with lawn chair in hand, and will stay until she has to have a cigarette, as yet she is still a closet-smoker after all these years. I was telling another dear one how much Carol means to me, and I was playing back some of our trauma together, the traumas that only dear friends lock in their hearts and bring out the pain to dust it off and shelf it in a freshly lined drawer in our hearts. Carol has a beautiful son, he is my godson who I pray for everyday. When he was just a toddler Carol had another pregnancy. She was expecting another son, and eagerly awaited his arrival, one morning she did not feel the baby move, she was 38 weeks. A trip to the OB/GYN proved fetal demise and off she went for an induction, many hours of labor, and delivery of her little one that never had a chance to take his first breath. Her husband summoned me, after working a night shift in the ED, I rushed to her bedside to find her with hypotension, tachycardia, and her IV infiltrated. We were unable to summon a nurse as the only two on duty were in a delivery. I put her in trendelenburg, restarted her IV, and went into Tracey nurse mode....."Don't poke the bear!" I only left that evening to return to my duties in the ED. As we have navigated the rough waters of loss, parenting, many miles between us, we come back together as no time has passed. I see her tired eyes, and think of her exquisite beauty as a young woman, I know there is a magnificent painting of her, a present to her husband many years ago that caught her bloom in it's glory. Another year has passed and I have not forgotten that wee one with the curly black hair that has a spot on top the mountain next to his grandpa, but his spirit soars with God the Father of all.