When I first started walking on Summit, 10 years ago, I occasionally caught sight of a familiar woman. She was usually running and always with a dog. I tormented myself trying to figure out who she was. About a year ago, she was out running her dog and our eyes met. She stopped and said, "Cari, right? Your a nurse at Children's. You took care of my son Sam. I will never forget you." That was it, Sam's mom, Patty. I remembered her instantly. Patty went on to tell me that I had left a lasting impression on her and she always hoped she would run into me to tell me how grateful she was for a very specific message I gave her almost 20 years ago when Sam was nearly on deaths door.
Patty told me Sam was now a senior in high school, looking at colleges. If you had asked me 20 years ago, I would have said San would never survive, and if he did, he would be mainstreamed as a special needs student. College, how could that be? The conversation returned to my work and the care I had given Sam, or more to the point, the care I had given his mom during one of his many hospitalizations. I was a new nurse really, and didn't have much experience. Sam became critically ill during a night shift. Patty seemed particularly unsure of herself. "Your only job is to advocate for him." I say it all time time to parents, I never really think about it, it seems so obvious. She stood at the end of the bed as a crisis evolved, words can't describe her fear. I took her hand, placed it on Sam's foot and said, stay connected Patty, stay connected. Patty remembered the night like it were yesterday, tears in her eyes as she conveyed how powerful my words and actions were that night. Patty said, knowing that her job was to advocate for Sam changed her world.
Twenty years of advocating and staying connected and now Sam was looking at colleges. Patty said Boston College was his first choice but she wasn't sure she could manage him being that far away. I cried as well, overwhelmed by the interaction and gave her a hug, whispering into her her ear "The job changes as they grow, now it is time to let him go." I don't have children. I don't know the first thing about raising them, caring for them, empowering them, who knew if it was the right thing to say. I sent Patty a card last May, high school graduation month. I guess it is traditional to send the graduate a card but my connection was with Sam's mom.
As I stood on Summit Ave Wednesday morning, under the Sky Blue Pink, I ran into Patty again, out running the dog. I stood, admiring the sun rise as she came up behind me, taking me by surprise. "Sam is leaving for Boston on the 31st" she told me. "Are you o.k.?" I asked.
"I am, thanks to you." and off she ran.
I spent the rest of the day, on top of the world, not only for the Sky Blue Pink, but for Patty and the messages she has given me along Summit Avenue. My work matters, I make a difference. How often do we hear that?