By Helene Rodriguez
People will come and go in our lives and I believe the same is true for angels.
This is the story of one “guardian angel” — someone who briefly appeared in my life to help me through a difficult time. She was the nurse who took care of me the night I had my daughter Laura.
I don’t know this nurse’s name. I’m not even sure of her nationality — probably Vietnamese or Asian — but I do know I will never forget her. Her soothing voice and comforting strokes are still as fresh in my mind as they were during the predawn hours of July 15, 1990.
I awoke all alone in a recovery room at Lea Regional Hospital in Hobbs following a cesarean. My whole body was paralyzed with pain. They had cut a slit across my stomach and I couldn’t even turn over on my side. My mom and sister, Julie, had been there in the waiting room before my operation and were the first to tell me that I had a baby girl. But I dozed in and out of consciousness and when I awoke later that night, I was all alone in my hospital room.
I let out an agonizing moan and then, somewhere out of the darkness, the softest, tenderest of hands I’ve ever felt in my life started massaging my body. I looked up at the figure by my bedside and was met with the kindest of eyes. She reassured me with her sweet, comforting voice that everything was going to be OK. She knew exactly what I was going through and knew exactly where I hurt.
Throughout that night, she made me change positions just about every hour so my body wouldn’t tightened up. She knew how painful any kind of movement was for me, even with the heavy medication I was under, so she exercised extreme patience. The first few times, I didn’t think I had the willpower to even wiggle my body in any direction. It hurt too much. But she encouraged me through my failed attempts and then cheered me on through the monumental moments, those moments that required me to hold my breath, muster up all of my strength, and then with excruciating pain, turn my body to one side.
I know this particular nurse was not just doing her job. It was the longest night of my life, a night that I honestly don’t think I could have made it through without her. I felt so scared and alone when I woke up in that room, but I thank God that I had this angel to guide me through that ordeal.
I never saw that nurse again and I regret that with my new, overwhelming responsibilities of motherhood, it didn’t occur to me at the time to get her name.
The next morning when the nurses changed shifts, I noticed an instant difference. The new nurse on duty sounded annoyed when I rang her to help me get up to go to the bathroom, something that I was still in no condition to do on my own. She took my hand and I could sense her impatience as I took deep breaths, trying to muster up the strength to lift myself up. I am so thankful this second nurse was not the one on duty during that longest night of my life.
I believe angels are among us all the time, but they make their presence known even more during pivotal moments of our lives. We’re never really alone, but at crucial times when we may feel alone, like I did on that most memorable of nights, God sends angels to comfort and strengthen us. These angels come in different sizes, shapes, colors, and, I’d like to think, in all professions.
Sometimes I think back to that night I had my daughter, Laura, who is now 14, and I wonder who that nurse was. I wonder where she is now and I wonder how many other souls out there have experienced her comforting aura, her soothing voice and her healing touch.
Helena Rodriguez is a columnist for Freedom Newspapers of New Mexico. She can be reached at: Helena.Rodriguez@enmu.edu