A few years ago, when I worked at The Other Hospital, I had a friend named Matt. He was a nurse on my unit. He was funny, friendly, and incredibly nice. Shortly after he started, I made a comment about being cold (it's a hospital, I was always cold) and he offered me his jacket. We were both married, and he wasn't flirting; just a simple but sweet gesture that I still remember years later.
A few months before I left The Other Hospital, Matt received tragic news. His brother had died in a car accident. Matt is young, in his late twenties; his brother was around the same age. Matt was out of work for a short time and when he came back, he was very quiet - understandably. He stayed in his nursing alcove and had very little interaction with anyone except for his patients. We all understood and gave him his space.
But the old Matt never returned. He would occasionally smile again, but it was the kind of smile that didn't make it to his eyes. He never cracked jokes, and rarely reacted when someone else did. His grief was palpable; it sort of hung in the air around him. It was heartbreaking.
Today, I saw Matt for the first time since I left The Other Hospital. He was at "My" Hospital, visiting someone who was a patient there. And he smiled when he saw me, and stopped and chatted with me for several minutes. He was pleasant and kind. But still, over two years later, that haunted look is still in his eyes. I don't think Matt will ever recover from the loss of his brother.
The oldest sister has been sick for several years; emphysema/COPD, chronic bronchitis, etc. (a lifelong smoker). She is also one of the sweetest, kindest people you could ever want to meet.
And now, at the age of 78, my aunt has taken a dramatic turn for the worse. She's in an ICU, being kept alive until all of her children can gather to say goodbye. My mother will head up to see her tomorrow (she's in another town about four hours away).
My mother has already lost two siblings; and now, barring some miracle, she will lose a third.
Another loss that one just never fully recovers from.