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An Open Letter to That UCI Nurse

I’m sorry now that I don’t remember your name. You were on shift that day in late October when my dad, my sister, and I joined my mom (who was nearly always there) in my brother’s hospital room. Late October meant Mom’s birthday, and we weren’t about to let Joe’s current hospitalization (ultimately, his last) hamper our celebration.



After discussing our options for a bit, we ordered online from the local BJ’s, and my sister and I were dispatched to pick it up. I remember the way back being slightly confusing as we were on unfamiliar streets, and by the time we got back, heavy-laden, we were more than ready to eat and have a family birthday dinner—a Fischer family tradition as far back as I can recall.


As we approached Joe’s door with the obnoxiously large and logo-plastered bags of food, you stopped us in the hallway. You said something like, “Oh, sorry guys, there’s no outside food allowed. There’s a risk of infection.”


I honestly don’t remember how we responded, probably something like, “Oh… really? We were just going to have dinner together…”


You stopped, considering the situation. I don’t know what was going through your mind—maybe we looked particularly crestfallen—but you responded with, “Well… okay. Just keep it quiet.”


That decision of yours was bigger than you’ll ever know.



That night we divvied our takeout feast out onto awkward paper plates and talked, laughed, and celebrated Mom. We took selfies together—at my demand and to Joe’s chagrin—and these are the last family photos we have. Unbeknownst to any of us, that was the last family celebration we’d have together; I think it may even have been the last dinner as a fivesome (although Joe came home from that hospital stay, he was bedridden from that point).


So, I wanted to thank you. As I said, I don’t know how you arrived at your decision to overlook the rule for us. Maybe it was just a snap decision. Maybe our faces changed your mind, or maybe you were just tired and this wasn’t worth a potential argument. Or maybe you truly understood what was at stake. After all, you were his nurse and must have known the prognosis.



Whatever the reason, we’re so grateful to you. You gave us so much more than just permission to eat our dinner. You gave us significant “lasts” we didn’t know about, and you gave us memories that continue to carry us through our grief to this day. “Thank you” seems inadequate, but it’s all I can think to say.


So thank you.


Sincerely,

Jamie and the Fischer crew



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