True love isn’t just about couples. True love is between any two people who fight their hardest until the fire must physically go out.
I witnessed it on Valentines Day - in a different way from everyone else.
I remember clearly because it was minutes after I had come back from my work break, and had just finished posting my “girl-squad” photo.
We had a patient brought in for a procedure because her symptoms were worsening and the next day she was going to have surgery.
Usually, when people come into the hospital, they have a family member or significant other with them. So typically, that’s the first deduction you make when they come in, especially when the two look alike.
But you ever notice how, when people spend a very long time with each other, they sometimes start to look alike? I did my pre-procedure intake, and found that it was a best friend, and not a sister like I’d thought. Best friends since 7th grade, they said.
As I continued to ask my routine questions (when’s the last time you ate or drank anything? Do you have allergies to food or medications?), they both contributed to answers, acquiescently…absent-mindedly, as their thoughts were quite obviously elsewhere. Most people, before procedures, nervously hang onto your every question, making sure nothing is missed for the sake of their own successful outcome. Instead, this pair clearly had thoughts that were less in the immediate present and more in the realm of the big picture - what this sudden chain of events now meant for her, that this was the marker for the beginning of a much bigger battle that was about to ensue, and with a quiet knowledge that things were about to quickly go downhill from here.
“What are you thinking?” Her friend said, tearily. “I don’t want to say,” she responded in a low, shaky voice, in between quiet sniffles. I felt so much pain and sadness behind her watery, reddened eyes.
Her friend responded by reassuring her, reminding her to breathe and thinking positively - because, even though she had the same exact unspoken fears, she knew she had no choice but to be the strong person to support her loved one.
Imagine, as a nurse or a doctor, there are several other patients that need tending to and so many other monitors and alarms going off that these moments are easy to miss… but I saw it. And I knew exactly what she was feeling because I had gone through this same thing with Gma.
I couldn’t help but think of the darkly ironic way in which the two of them, with their strong, loving bond, came in on a “day of love,” and felt deeply saddened by it, as well as mildly guilty for having posted a photo with such superficial concerns and caption only moments before, even though I had really done nothing wrong.
What could I do? For these strangers that I had just met, and during one of the most significant moments of their lives? Not much, aside from offering a box of tissues, a warm blanket, and telling them to let me know if they needed anything else… while knowing that nothing I could offer would reverse the inevitable.
She was rolled in for the procedure and I never saw her again.
Anyway. That’s true love.
Photos by Jansen Dacuag