my mom was struggling with a headache yesterday. when the shower nurse emmanuel arrived, my mom didn’t feel like taking a shower.
because of my mom’s condition, she only gets a shower twice a week. she normally loves her shower – a chance to feel renewed and fresh. her caregiver, rose, my dad, and i …all three of us were saying, ‘oh mommy you love your shower, just take a quick one – you’ll feel better after the shower.’
who am i to tell someone else how they feel? only i know how i feel. for me, taking a shower takes no effort; for my mom, who can’t stand without assistance, a shower is an ordeal. i take so much for granted.
emmanuel listened to my mom even though she can’t talk. he looked into her eyes, and asked her if she wanted to shower. she shook her head ‘no’
at first i thought he must not want to give her a shower. he probably has something better to do and doesn’t have the time to give her a shower.
the voice in my head was louder than my heart. when i’m being selfish, it’s usually something i want that is outside me. when i’m taking care of myself, it’s usually something i need inside me that allows me to grow and become a better person.
emmanuel then offered to come back tomorrow and shower her, explaining that he never has seen my mom not want a shower, ‘she must not really be feeling well.’ and then he went on to say,
‘i try and listen to my patients, especially the ones who can’t talk. i try and imagine what it must be like not to be able to say what you want and to have people not understand you. your mom is saying that she doesn’t feel like a shower today. i want to respect that.’
we were willing to ignore her request because we wanted her to be showered. i felt terrible that i hadn’t tried to put myself in her shoes. instead i was letting my head tell me what she should do.
when emmanuel was leaving, i extended a $20 bill to thank him for his troubles and for the lesson he was quietly living-
when you live compassionately, you allow your heart to connect with the other’s heart.
‘no, i cannot take that. i love my work and treat my patients as if they were my own parents. i’m happy to come back tomorrow when she feels better.’
thank you for the lesson emmanuel, and then i remembered ‘god is with us’ is the meaning of the name emmanuel.