Yesterday I went to a Retirement Birthday Party for a Nurse that works in the O.R. I worked with him at my old place of work from my first day of residency to three years ago. At my new job, I began to work with his wife, another O.R. R.N. We have grown close, and my son and I visit them.
This nurse has been forced to retire due to health issues. A solid organ was transplanted, rejected, and a second one put in. After this long hospitalization, he had the option to stay at home on disability. Citing that 'my family is here in the O.R.', he came back. But was allowed only clean cases. No infections, due to his immunocompromised state.
Around the time I left my old work, the anti-rejection drugs gave him diabetes. He longed for a peanut butter sandwich that was dripping with jelly. He made his lifestyle changes. And went hunting and fishing and boating and camping like he always did.
Put it all together, and this Retirement Party was also a Birthday Party (he is an Aquarius) and after I slept on it, I realized it was a Celebration of Life. With all of our medical training, his friends and coworkers from 1985 up to today knew from his wife telling them, that medical retirement in this situation always leads to death.
So here I am, at an Italian restaurant, seeing people I worked with for thirteen years, going through the emotions I had not expected. Many I had chosen not to reconnect to on Facebook. I did not leave my old place of work wanting to keep connections. I wanted something new. Some stressed me. What surprised me was the love they had for me and me for them. A lot has changed since we worked together. The entire pre-op unit, and many post-op recovery room unit workers, had been forced into early retirement due to political pressure. Somebody high up 'did not like them'. The head of nursing.
I saw three of my surgery attendings, not one anesthesia attending (yay! that would have been AWK-WARD), two former chief residents of mine, A new breast surgeon from my hospital now that also works at my old place. Many nurses and techs that I had spent hours with in the O.R. saving trauma patients and the like. And a Nurse Anesthetist who chose not to speak to me and I chose not to speak to her.
I was struck by the realization that the only thing that IS left after you leave a place, is LOVE.
And that God protects us. I was told my old place of work was even more malignant now. The department of anesthesia is led by an un-spiritual foreign medical school grad. I have seen papers coming out of the department, the most recent being 'application of thirty year old chemical engineering technology to anesthesia review paper'. Big whoopie. And the NEW coworkers, the ones who are friends through the wife, were warm and caring.
The new surgeon actually asked me to sit next to her and my old plastic surgery professor, when I had started to sit with my old pre-op nurse friends.
Funny thing is, the plastics teacher suffers from a touch of narcissism. He is loving and caring, but lives in his mind, and thinks about his appearance and working out. He spoke about his new diet for most of the time. And I had the familiar feeling of being near him and his not really being present. That hurts. It is nice to have a connection. But this individual can't.. It is all on his terms. As we went to say goodbye, he hugged the retiring nurse and said, 'I love you.' But I didn't feel the vibrations from the heart. Such is the life of a surgeon who is mind-focused. Ego, although well hidden. You feel it. And it makes you sad.
After a while I had to go. I could not spend any more of my precious free time living in the past. I learned that my Facebooking helps a lot of people, and we felt close when I saw them at the event.
The best part was when his oldest and best friend, for over like, fifty years, gave a toast. "Our lives have been made better because we have known you." And then when we hit the forks to the glass, he said, I will now kiss the bride and gave the retiree a big kiss on the head! It was unexpected, warm, and funny.
My question to you is, why wait? Why wait to Celebrate a Life? Why wait until you say 'goodbye'?
Why can't we Celebrate a Life EVERY day? For we never really know who is going to be there when we expect to see them next.
Treat EVERY ONE YOU MEET like they are dying. Give them the love from your heart, give service to them. And dignity and kindness.
When everyone figures this out---Earth will be like Heaven!