She was 27 years of age, poor, withered, scared, alone. She had grown up in a tough neighborhood. She never knew her father, lost her mother, her job, and earlier had lost her brother when she was six. The father of this pregnancy was uncertain.
She presented in labor at 26 weeks gestation. She delivered her child quickly. Every effort was made to save the child, but two days later, the baby died. She sat quietly in her room, no family visited.
Her obstetrician entered and saw her staring away, a small tear from her eye, exhausted.
“What’s the matter?”
“No one will talk to me. The technician enters the room, takes my blood pressure and leaves. The resident checks if I’m bleeding and leaves. The person drawing the blood does so and leaves. The dining staff brings my tray of food and leaves. No one will talk to me – why is that?”
The obstetrician stopped and sat on her bed. He took a deep breath and said, “Carrie, at the end of each day as I get out of that elevator at the end of the hall, I have to make a decision. Do I turn right and head down the hall to return home for dinner, see my family and hear about their day, or do I turn right and walk down this hall to your room and face your grieving, the sadness, the messiness of the moment? None of us likes to confront the difficult issues of the day, the despondent, the complex, the threatening.” He reached out and held her hand.
She looked at him, eyes blood-shot, seeking, yearning. She squeezed his hand. Time stood still.
“Thank you,” she said, and smiled a half-hearted smile and closed her eyes.
As he left, the obstetrician turned out the lights. And she slept.