I tend to be an overly emotional person. I empathize way too much with others and that can make it difficult to separate opinion from emotions. As an example, I deleted my Facebook because I would be so overwhelmed by posts that I would internalize them and carry them with me. It was healthier for me to just delete it, and I’ve found a lot of peace without Facebook. As I sit down to write this post, I find myself going over and over the current state of affairs in our country, and I can’t pull my emotions from it. This isn’t something I can delete, and it’s hard for me to figure out how to handle it in a healthy and proactive way.
You’ll have to excuse me as this post will take some detours, but will get to my point, I promise.
I once had a patient in the pediatric ICU who was critically ill. He was 4 years old and had a serious traumatic brain injury from being ejected from a vehicle because his mother didn’t buckle him in. His only injury was a skull fracture, he looked totally unharmed, except his brain CT scan. It was heartbreaking. I sat at the bedside of this boy who I could do nothing for except my job, and tried to come to terms with the injustice of this situation. The mother had a broken clavicle and her son was going to die. She had the understanding of safety to put her seatbelt on, but her 4 year old son suffered the consequences of her serious lack of judgement. I struggled a lot with this boy and how he fit into my practice as a nurse. As we did his daily care, prepared his tube feedings, and monitored his fragile vital signs, I realized that I had such an important role in this boy’s life. Regardless of whether or not he will ever remember me, I got to love him by using the skill set that I am so passionate about and so lucky to have learned. There is an opportunity to love every person you meet, and it’s not always the same way. In this situation, my love was directed through my competence at his bedside.
My time in the Marine Corps was anything but smooth sailing. I got to my school house in the midst of an investigation that led to a school wide lock down, and then went to a command that was anything but welcoming in its first days. I landed in San Diego after a month of corrections training on top of going home each night to lectures from Sergeants who were annoyed they had to babysit us, about things that I wasn’t present to partake in, that led to the punishment I was forced to be apart of. I was terrified of being in a new place, in a new group of people, doing a job that I wasn’t thrilled about. The people who picked me up from the airport were not welcoming. They were belittling, and took every opportunity to point out weakness and flaws. When I was at my lowest adulthood weight (running 10 miles three times a week for a month will do that to you), one of them told me to not even think about eating out that weekend so that I wouldn’t be “too fat” to pass my initial weigh in. They picked apart my uniforms and threw my seabag around the room. I cried myself to sleep for the first week. I remember vividly the corporal asking me if I had name tapes on all of my uniforms, I started with “No, but,” and he cut me off. He said “so your answer is ‘no’.” And when I tried to continue again, he stopped me and said “I don’t care what your explanation is, the answer to my question is no. If I care to have an explanation I’ll ask.” Amidst the chaos of that first week, and how frustrating it was to not be able to explain myself, I really took something from that. Don’t get me wrong, the guy was a total dick (he did go on to prove that he had some good qualities, and I don’t totally hate him, but I think that his first impression will always stick with me more poignantly than any other meeting with him) but I learned something valuable in that moment.
As I look to our current state of affairs here in our country with children being LITERALLY separated from their families, I cannot help but think back to this moment. It seems that any questioning about this to our country’s leaders is deflected with a “no, but..”. And I feel like that corporal standing in my room so many years ago. Their answer is no, and I don’t care to hear an explanation. I want action. I don’t care what the outcome would have been if Hillary, or even God himself, were president of our nation right now. I care what happens with our current leader. I find my heart aching for these children who are in no part responsible for the actions of their parents (right or wrong is not my debate here) who are being punished in the most cruel ways as a tool to punish their parents. I find myself angry in the deepest of ways that this is allowed to happen in today’s society. I find myself furious that there is absolutely nothing I can physically do for these children who are scared and confined away from their families. I find myself in tears over how futile my calls to the senate are.
I think back to the boy who I cared for in the last days of his life, and it resonates with these children being confined away from their parents. They are not yet old enough to be responsible for the actions related to their parents’ decisions. But regardless, I was able to love that boy through my own skill set, separate from my feelings about his mother’s actions. I feel so strongly that we need to do the same with these children. We need to love them regardless of our feelings about their parents’ actions.
I don’t know how to cope with this. And I don’t know how to move forward while this weighs so heavily on my heart. This isn’t Facebook. I can’t delete it because it’s too much for me, I need to face it. I have passion for helping people, and I cannot stand idly by while human lives are used as bargaining chips. I don’t often publicly voice my opinions on political matters, but you know what? Fuck that. This goes SO FAR beyond politics. We are dabbling in some serious evil as a country and we need to stand up. I don’t care who the country’s leader is, and I don’t care about the letter of the law. I care about the human lives that are being manipulated. HUMAN lives, ya’ll. The same as you and me.
I’ve spent time praying about this and I’ve yet to settle somewhere with it because I am so consumed by emotion and overwhelmed by how much this hurts my heart. If you know of a need for registered nurses for these kids, let me know. I’ll be on a plane in 3 seconds. Until then, call 202-224-3121, press 1, state your zip code, and say “”I live in ___ and I support SB3036.” Put aside your opinions of their parents, put aside your political affiliations, and care about the children. Care about the human being that’s the same as you and me. This post was written through a lot of tears, frustration, and fear. I want to stand on the other side of this knowing that I did what I could to help those in need. Let’s make America love, and be kind, and accept others. Let’s forget exclusion and fear.