In Response to “Caretaker” by Laura Hinton, Non-fiction/Fall 2013
As I read, I felt with you the fear, the pain, the madness.
The would-be caretakers – police, EMT’s, nurses, doctors – all too human and apathetic. Aren’t we all? I, too, am angry with them – for taking your dignity, and giving nothing in return.
But how are you? Did you survive? I fear for you. You, who were put in a position no one should have to endure, but you did anyway. You, who watched your husband crumple. You, who dealt with the feces in the plastic bag on the hospital floor, like that of a dog. I am sorry. You, who painted pictures of the care that isn’t there in those places where we expect it, where we have the RIGHT to expect it.
Would I have been any different? I could have written those concerned e-mails, then stopped, or never showed up with a meal, although I meant to so many times. I could be that daughter or son who never helps out, who doesn’t feel the burden, and the guilt only sometimes, forgetting that for you, this is a 24-hour job, and you have no time to work, to pay the bills. I have been that nurse who says, “You are the Caretaker.” I wonder now how many times I was not there for the Caretaker. And I am sorry.
And your only friend stripped cruelly, suddenly away. Your son! I fear for you, and I am sorry.
Jutta Braun is celebrating her fortieth year in nursing this spring. She has never quite figured out a specialty, and has instead dabbled in lots of different health areas, including renal transplant, intensive care, home care, cardiac rehabilitation, psychiatric and pediatric nursing. Every day is a learning and growing experience, and, in the last twenty years, she has been privileged to share that learning with her nursing students. She has always wanted to write about the blessing of being a witness to the most profound moments of life – birth, death, and the whole journey in between – and is thankful to have that opportunity now.