By Tara Duffy, RN. Tara is an RN at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, NY, where she works in the Wilmont Cancer Center.
I hear it, taste it, smell the construction to my left as I walk into the hospital. It is a sight for sore eyes—as in causing them, not soothing them—so I try to pay it little attention.
Her smile catches my attention. I have not seen it in weeks.
“I hear you got outside today?” I ask.
The smile widens as I write my name on the whiteboard. She is a vibrant woman, full of life yet dying to be home.
“I did . . . it was greeeeaat,” she sighs.
I instantly envision the hospital surroundings—smokers circle at one exit, construction on the opposite.
“Where did you get to go?” I ask, hoping to learn of some hidden gems beyond these doors.
“Right out front,” she responds, matter-of-factly.
The construction site, I think to myself, instantly dismayed.
“It was sooo great.” Her smile surfaces again.
I suddenly realize she is speaking in relative terms.
“Just that fresh air,” she pauses as I envision the filth and ruckus, “was soooo nice.” She exhales deeply.
My smile widens with hers. I am instantly humbled. I manage an “I bet.”
I realize, in these moments, how easily life’s simple gifts can get away from us. To me, fresh air is on a hike through a forest, a kayak through the sea’s breeze, or skiing through the snow’s fall. Perhaps my expectations are glamorous because my fortunes have been good. Or perhaps it just takes a grateful patient’s reminder to appreciate a breath of fresh air in a cloud of dust.
As I exit the hospital, I pay the construction on my right some attention. It’s still a sight for sore eyes, a burden on my ears, a spot I’d just rather not be. But for right now, for this moment, I can appreciate it for what it does offer. A different perspective.