… She placed the palms of each hand on either side of my full-bearded cheeks, and began slowly stroking the hair, eyes tear-filled, but a smile on her face. I was frightened and self-conscious: this was happening in the middle of the ICU, in full view of all the staff. At last she whispered, “Thank you,” and she and her husband turned and left. 

I stood there, feeling naked before the on-looking nurses and other staff, unsure of my own emotions. Embarrassed? Conspicuous? Yes. But more… Grateful. And also, utterly alone.

This experience was one of those that I call “sudden intimacies.” 

(A Sudden Intimacy, Blessings & Sudden Intimacies)

I have not talked to this woman much… She is young and attractive, herself a nurse, and she asks if she may hold the child while we stop the ventilator and remove the tube. “Of course,” I reply. And she sits in a rocking chair, holding the baby, swaddled in clean blankets, until there are no more breaths, and tears roll silently down her cheeks.

There is a brief period of quiet. And then she asks me, “Would you like to hold her?”

I am stunned. I have never, in 20-some years, been asked anything like this. Though stunned, I blurt, “Oh yes, please… thank you.”

(Holding a Baby, Blessings & Sudden Intimacies)



© Greg Stidham  2016