Tuesday, May 10, 2011

To A Very Special Nurse

I don't post nearly as much as I used to. Some of that is not feeling like I ever have time and some of that is just being in a place in my life where I am starting to have peace again.

But I was reminded that this week is National Nursing Week and it occurred to me to write a little something about a nurse I am truly grateful for.

She was a neighbour of ours, on her way to dropping her kids off at daycare. Hectic morning, hectic life. She crested that little dip on 84th and there was Craig's car and the wreckage from the collision only minutes prior. She was the first person on scene.

Her training kicked in and she called her husband to come meet her and get her kids out of the car and away from the whole scene. She checked the other driver and headed straight for Craig's car. It was so badly damaged she had to crawl in through one of the windows and all she could reach was his hand. She was scratched up by the broken glass and shards of metal and still sat there for over ten minutes until the police arrived, holding his hand and praying for him.

It took me months to be able to speak to her after his accident. I was so grateful for her honesty, her ability to recount all the worst parts of the story, no matter how painful it was for either of us. She was one of the few people who knew enough to refrain from trying to coddle or protect me, that the pain was in the details and I needed all those details.

She told me Craig was not conscious, that he was struggling to breathe, that she could see slight movement under his eyelids. She described to me the last few moments of his life - a time I would have given anything to be there for.

In some ways I experienced a lot of anger over not being the person to be there. I felt it was my responsibility. That I was his wife and I NEEDED to be there. This is something most people may not understand, but however traumatized I would have been, I would still rather have been there to hold his hand and tell him everything was going to be ok, than have been sitting at work, chatting with a friend, completely oblivious.

I was told later that the police all but dragged her out of the car, that she refused to leave. She was crying and praying and insistent that someone stay for Craig.

I often wondered what the chances were that a nurse would be the first to show up. Pretty rare, right? But given how horrific the accident was, I'm not sure someone else could have handled it as well. It took almost six months for her to be able to fully recount the story to me and for me to be able to hear it. It is something that stayed with her, that affected her in a huge way.

But because of her someone was there to hold his hand, to pray over him, to show him that he was not alone. I hope that he was aware of her there and that he was not afraid. I like to think she was at least a comfort to him in those final moments. And what an incredible gift that is.

So this week I just want to remember that nurse, and all the wonderful nurses out there, and say thank you for doing what you do, saving lives, and taking care of our loved ones when they need it most. You are all amazing.


  1. Hi Emily, It's me, Nurse Corie. Teresa, your Neighbor told me about your blog yesterday and I really wanted to read it and see how you are doing. I honestly think of you and Craig almost everyday. Every time I drive past Craig's cross, my heart aches for you two and I remember that day and how it has changed my life. My life has really become so much more to me since that day, I am so grateful for every moment. I have wanted to stop by and see how you are so many times, but didn't want to be intrusive. Thank you so much for your appreciation, it means so very much to me. I knew that day that it would be hard for you to know that someone else was there instead of you. I would have felt the same way. I actually felt like I had taken that from you and it made me heartbroken. When I saw the way Craig loved and adored you from the memories shared at your funeral, I was so grateful to know that you both were so in love and had known happiness together. I will always feel connected to you both in a way that is very special to me. I pray that God will always be with you and bless you and love you in all ways. If you have time, I would love it if you came by and said hello.
    God Bless,
    Corie Raddis

  2. she was there, so that you could be, through her. He must have felt your love coming through her, what a blessing! thank you nurse Corrie!

  3. Well said, I believe this too. Thank you friend.

  4. Corie - I have moved but would love to come see you! Send me a quick email if you get a chance and we'll set something up(emilygarvin@shaw.ca).

  5. dear Emily,

    when you see Corie, please give her a hug for me. hearing the incredible compassion and heroic measures to comfort and assess your Craig in the last moments of his life really touched my heart - and it makes me proud that I was a Hospice Nurse for 30 years. then both my husband and I had cancer at the same time. he died 2 years ago; I am still in remission for both St IV metastatic BC and Uterine cancer. reading about Corie makes me wish I could resume my career, but alas, I am not able to do that, unable to handle both the emotional and the physical parts. much love to you Emily, and to Corie as well. Karen Sutherland.