Some days as a nurse are harder than others. Today was not a particularly hard day but the desperation of my patients just seemed unbearable for some reason. So, after my last home visit I pulled into an empty parking lot and had a cry.
As I was having a pretty impressive weep, a police car pulled up several rows down from me. Now, in the poverty-stricken areas that I work there is usually a strong police presence so I wasn't surprised to see him but I was sitting in the parking lot of an abandoned and empty grocery store and it did seem like a strange place for another person to park. So I watched him.
I could see that he appeared to be talking on a phone so I just continued on with my cry, gathering myself together before I picked up my kids after my shift. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a bit of white flash and I looked over- the white flash was a Kleenex that the burly police officer was using to wipe his tears as he wept into his phone.
He noticed me watching and seemed embarrassed. Then, he seemed to take in the stethoscope around my neck and my own Kleenex in my hand and nodded, like he had put together all of the clues and knew why I was here. He raised his chin in hello.
I kept imagining the call he was making or what he had just seen(I imagined a thousand different horrible things in just a moment's time- we nurses have seen many horrors and our imaginations are sickeningly active) and I cringed.
I raised my Kleenex in silent salute and appreciation. He raised his back to me. A shredded, pulpy, messy salute.
Then he went back to his call and I drove off in the direction of my home.
There is no shame in crying. Some days we must purge the pain to continue to march forward and warrior on.