My thoughts and prayers go out to a fellow Fort Wayne nurse that was killed yesterday morning on her way to work at Parkview Hospital. Kimberly A. Swickard was 40 years old, had two daughters and according to her co-workers was a wonderful nurse and wonderful person. Her car was involved in a hit and run at 3am when she was on her way into work at Parkview where she was a medical telemetry nurse...she later died in the ER at Parkview Hospital from head trauma from the collision. See attached story.
I don't understand how anyone could be involved in an accident and then leave the scene...these slimebags hit her and left her like she was nothing. They ran a flashing red light, hit her car and then fled the scene like a couple of pieces of shit that didn't even flinch or care that they injured (ultimately killed) another human being - whom was on her way to work to care for the sick herself. I can't even wrap my mind around this.
When I used to work in the ER as a nurse, I let a lot of things eat me up. I took a lot of fear home. I was always wondering if something was going to happen, if I'd ever see my loved ones again, if I made sure that all was well before leaving my loved ones because you never know.
I had to leave the ER because of that kind of thinking. It was eating me up inside. The trauma, the loss, the pain that people have to endure. I took care of many, many people who came into the ER not knowing when they got up that morning that that day would be their last day. I cared for them during the dying process which was not the worst part (you'd think that was the worst part, but it was not at all, talking to and seeing the families who's lives had suddenly changed forever was the worst part. The sound that someone makes when they are crying and grieving from the depths of their soul is a sound that haunts me, a sound I will never forget, and and sound that I pray I never have to make again in my life). The patients themselves, who were usually unconscious on arrival (but not always), were not as hard on the heart to take care of. I have been with a lot of people when they have passed on. I am telling you from experience, the exact moment when someone passes is always peaceful. It is always peaceful, even if all the moments leading up to it were anything but peaceful...the last moment always is. You can tell, just by looking at someone, when they are gone - even without looking at any monitors or anything. Their whole body changes the instant that their soul leaves. When someone dies, you can almost see their soul leave (not by seeing their soul per se, but by seeing the absence of their soul. Their body looks like a shell, an empty vessel). I have said many a prayer during the moments that I see this happen, when I see a body change from a person to just a body. I feel as if their soul is in the room, leaving to go to it's next journey, and I have said prayers during that time that their soul makes the transition smoothly and safely to it's next destination. And I swear to you, that I always feel this encompassing warmth in my chest/body when I do that...and I'm sure that it's because I'm feeling the brightness and love that has returned to that person's soul as they move on to the next stage. I feel blessed to have had these experiences as they helped me tremendously in the development of my own spirituality and beliefs.
I had a hard time functioning though while working in the ER. I had a hard time just existing in a "normal" life where people (friends and loved ones) get mad and yell and fight because I would always worry that it would be my last time seeing them and that would be their memories of me. It got to the point that I was experiencing significant anxiety and depression to the point that I was on antidepressants for awhile. That's what full-time in the ER did to me, it made me paranoid and anxious about being alive for the fear of death. Not just the fear of death but the fear of death without everything being 'perfect.' (I do realize that this is irrational, I realize that in the real world people have fights, people get mad, and sometimes that is the last memory but that does not mean that is the only memory. I know that, and I know that the 'last memory' per se is not of the importance that I'm giving it...I'm just lamenting on how twisted the ER made my mind when I spent so many hours there seeing so many unspeakable things).
This story, even though I didn't know Kim well, struck that same chord with me. I have been out of the ER since October 2004 now, but those same feelings are coming back. I can't help but think of how she didn't know when she got up that morning and got ready for work, checked in on her kids, said good-bye to her husband, got in her car to drive to work, that that was it...that was the last time...she didn't know. She didn't know.
Life is so fragile and scary and wonderful and yet we blunder through it like bulls in a china shop not caring who we step on to get what we want. Not caring how reckless we are with each other and our relationships. We take so much for granted every single day. We spend so much time, precious time, worrying about stupid stuff that we won't even remember worrying about in 5 days let alone in 5 years. But still we are willing to speak before we think and hurt others with our sharp tongues...we are willing to give the most of our time and the most of ourselves to the things that don't matter at all in the end. We are willing to sacrifice what is important in the end to what we think is important right now.
I recently read an awesome book called "Suzanne's diary for Nicholas" by James Patterson and in that book one of the main characters Suzanne states a lesson she learned while struggling through balancing a medical practice, and illness and being in love and losing love. She is told that life is like juggling 5 balls, those 5 balls are: work, family, friends, health and integrity. You work hard to keep them in the air at all times, but sometimes you are bound to slip up and let one fall. The work ball is made of rubber and will bounce back, however the balls for health, integrity, friends and family are made of glass and if dropped can scratch, chip or worse, they can shatter and may never be able to be repaired. I found this an enlightening lesson about prioritization regarding what is important in life. If you like to read at all, pick this book up, it's a great, great read. Very moving.
So, I guess you take things year by year, week by week, day by day, hour by hour and probably most importantly, moment by moment. Never look away from an unplanned opportunity to spend time with loved ones, even if it wasn't on your schedule for the day. I think that it's how we spend those little unplanned moments, those precious experiences, that builds our character and our memories and the quality of our lives. My mid-year's resolution (since I don't typically make new-year's resolutions) is to savor the moments in my life and be open to whatever opportunities they may bring, be it big or small. I want to live my life completely, I want to be completely worn-out and used-up when it comes time for my soul to pass on. I want there to be standing room only at my funeral.
So here's a prayer to Kim, that her soul is embraced in peace and love and understanding, and to Kim's family, that their hearts may heal one day from this horrible tragedy and they can remember their wife and mother and daughter in love and happiness and peace. I can tell from the love that surrounds Kim and her family now that her life was a life well-lived, and I bet that there will be standing room only at her funeral.
Peace to all.