I loved a man whose wounds gaped so wide no sutures could close them. So deep that poison forever festered in their hollows, distilled in those dark crevasses. Some recent, some very old, and so many that he spent his time counting them, his dreadful possessions. He gathered them together and forged from them bright armor, with fever for its shine, secured with the outrage of his nerves and the sinews of his jaw.
For years, I worked away at the metal carapace. I noted each wound and gave each its due. Named them in my own tongue, and wept over them. I worked to close them, to knit them, to pour cleansing daylight into those festering caves. I was a true and patient nurse.
And then I saw a new wound made – barbaric and infinitely deep, right before my eyes. I saw the sword that cut into the form, saw its bright blood well, its gaping meat split wide. I did not step back horrified. I did what I have always done: staunched as best I could, kept faithful vigil, gave the comfort I could give.
There are a thousand poignant stories of patients who fall in love with their nurses, and of nurses who fall in love with their charges. Don’t believe them, you clever young thing of tender heart. They are lies told to keep the stupid and the tired at their posts.
Take advice from this old and disillusioned thing: once you take up the basin and the sponge, you become the night nurse always and forever. You will not sleep, your feet will make no sound upon the corridor of another’s heart, your ministering hands will always come back empty into your lap. You will only exist when you are required.
And if you, sister, in your turn, are wounded, or when the infection finds in you a new host, no one will sit vigil over you, or wipe your brow. Night nurses die at dawn.
Pick another profession.