Posted by: carolyn / through a widow's eyes | March 26, 2011

Night Nurse (a tiny dam)

Last night I was reading a daughter’s memoir of being home caring for her mom in the last few weeks of her life with cancer: The Mercy Papers, by Robin Romm. It had this passage, which brought me right back to that dark place:

We keep trying to talk about the problems, but we don’t know how. The minute we bring one up, it metastasizes. Maybe the problem is that we keep looking for a problem, something to fix or, at the very least, blame.

“I think we need a night nurse,” I say, because it’s concrete, a tiny dam to control one part of this flooding.

And because the two weeks I’ve been here have proved we really need one.

Below is the first little essay I wrote about Jeff’s illness. He was still with us then, for a few more days or weeks. This was part of an email to a family member. I didn’t know then that this was only the first of hundreds more pages, trying to drain this wound.

Night Nurse

Last weekend I hired a private nurse  – friend of a friend type thing  –  to stay overnight so I could catch up on some sleep, which has been a major problem of late. A pleasant enough woman, but she started talking the minute she arrived and never shut up for one second. No ability whatsoever to pick up on the fact that everyone in the house was past exhausted and had no interest in her grandchildren.

Maybe the worst part was this lady’s assumption that the gaunt, subdued, gray-haired, grizzled man we were caring for was my father, not my husband. Certainly he is older than me, but cancer has given him the appearance of a man many years older than his true age.

Finally I had to ask her what information she needed from me so that I could stagger off to the guest bedroom to try and sleep. Then I lay there thinking about how it was costing me $200 to have her reading magazines downstairs.The tall gangly young woman who is my daughter climbed into bed with me (“like I’m seven”, she murmured) and in the morning I found in the bed her battered old pink bear she has clutched every night from birth til, apparently, now.





  1. ❤ I have old emails I wont get rid of and my hand has hovered over the delete many times. "Drain this wound" is a perfect way to put it…You know I have written 1000's of words on my journey, on grief, on being a widow…I turned then to painting when words weren't enough, and still I drain, and keep draining…

    I love you ❤


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