A Patient’s Last Walk
There I was standing up against a wall, next to some other nurses who I did know and many I didn’t. Across the hallway were several people in scrubs, but who I didn’t know. The quiet and reverence in the air was palpable. Sun rays were brightening the corridor and overcrowding the florescent bulbs with natural warmth. Then, ever so slowly and gracefully two women, carrying a sign about donating, walked down the hall. No one moved as we watched them pass. Behind the two women, a security guard slowly and gracefully walked down the hall.
Then came the patient, his bed escorted by medical staff. He was lying in bed, with beautifully pink skin, and looked very clean, as if he had showered and lied down to take a nap. He had a tube for breathing and multiple bags of medicine hanging to keep his organs alive, but those weren’t noticeable. The only sound was from the occasional squeeze of the bag mask, to help keep oxygen going to the patient.
He had an American flag perfectly draped across his body over his sheets. This only amplified feelings knowing he was a serviceman. His family tearfully followed him. One woman turned back to see all those that had come to support this man’s last walk. I felt a lump well up in my throat as they passed. Some of us were crying, some were holding their right hand to their heart, all of us showing what reverence we could to a wonderful man who was giving of his life and organs so another could live.
Different hospitals may call it something different: the last walk, the walk of respect, the honor walk or the donor walk. It is a humbling an beautiful experience that is done to honor someone who is fully on life support but still has the ability to save another. Most will never see something like this, but this video is what it is like.
Moments When Walls Crumble
I didn’t know that man, his family, or many of the nurses and staff who came that day, and yet the united feeling was undeniable. We speak of being brothers and sisters, but that experience reminded me just how strong and real that bond is. Our days are filled with busyness, but for those few moments, tasks were put on hold. What was viewed as important could wait. Phones were silenced. Our problems seemed to fade away as we took a moment to recognize the sacrifice of this one man. A man who had fought the good fight and had finished the race. It was at that moment when my walls seemed to crumble.
So often we put up walls in our mind between us and others. We build walls of comparison, of envy and jealousy; walls to protect our self-confidence because we are afraid that what people may see in us they won’t like. While we feel that most of these walls protect us, more often than not, they damage our relationships. We close off to people, to situations and bottle up everything inside. The walls we build in our mind entrap us. They prevent us from progressing and from trying to be better.
And yet, standing in that hallway, next to others that I couldn’t pick from a crowd, none of those things mattered. True brotherly kindness, giving to others who can’t give back to you, combats all darkness. There is a time and place for walls, but maybe more of us, including myself, need to do what President Howard W. Hunter counseled and “take stock to determine whether “walls” that we have built in our own minds need to come down.”
P.S. Want to learn more about walls that we put up in our lives and how to combat them? Check out my book If a Seed Can Do It!