It All Gets To Be Too Much


moans and screams and stretched
too thin and doing my best, which
is never good enough, not when
people's lives are at stake, not
when they are as fragile as the
elderly are.

"talk to her, she's scared and
depressed and thinks her family
just dropped her off here," said
Mrs. D, "her" roommate.

so i walk in the room and i ask her
how's she's doing and she says she's
not doing too well, she thinks, she's
afraid her "people" have forgotten her,
so i tell her that she's just not strong
enough right now to be home, that she
needs a lot of help doing things and
she's here so we can help her.

"i miss my family," she says.

"can i be part of your family while you're
here?" i ask her.

i know it's corny and i know it sounds trite,
but she's such a sweet, sweet old woman, and
so confused and depressed and afraid and i want
to just hold her for a while and make her feel
a part of something again. i didn't get much
time with my grandparents when i was growing up,
or i did and i was just too young to understand
they wouldn't always be around, and they weren't,
not after i got to be a certain age.

and while what i said may sound corny to you
and me, it must have been what she needed to
hear because she put her arms around me and
started to cry and i wiped her tears away with
a Kleenex, hugged her back and started talking
in my "soothing" voice, soft and low, not really
saying much at first, then asking her if she'd
like to come up and sit with me at the nurse's
station for a while, maybe watch some TV there
in the day room across from where i sit and chart
and prepare medications, and she said yes and
i wheeled her down there and tried to make her
a part of things, but there is always so much
to do, so many needs to be met, deadlines to
meet and i had to get to work and i noticed
her getting restless and ask an aid to take
her back to her room, while i follow with her
medications which will make her sleepy soon
and relieve for a while her anxiety.

it just gets too much and i think there must
be some other way to make a living, some other
way to touch people in real and true ways, but
i can't imagine doing anything else, this is
all i've ever known as an adult, what else
could i do?

and sometimes i cry on the drive home for
all the things i didn't have time to do,
for the moments i had to cut short, for
the lives that are going nowhere, that
have nothing to look forward to anymore
except some bit of kindness when i have

maybe waiting tables isn't so bad. people
come in, they're hungry, you laugh and make
them feel comfortable, wait on them hand and
foot for about an hour and send them on their
way, fed and happy, hopefully.

it's got to be easier than this.


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