Dear Dr. Robbie,
I fell in love with you almost fifty years ago. I never told you. You were an intern; I was a newly graduated nurse. I called you to restart an IV on an elderly, confused veteran at 6 AM in the morning. The first time I saw you, you were limping down the hallway on to the ward. I told you the IV was prepared and ready to go and I would accompany you and hold the man’s arm because he might not cooperate. He came from a nursing home and he was disoriented in his new surroundings. That is how he pulled out his IV.
You looked at the veteran, grabbed a chair, put down the long silver siderail, sat down and spoke to him softly while rubbing the back of his hand. You were in no hurry. It was like you had not just been woken out of bed and had all the time in the world. I fell in love with you at that moment because you were so kind. It helped that you looked like Robert Kennedy too. Then, I noticed the wedding ring. You were married, but I was not.
We worked together occasionally over the next two years. You always asked me to help you when doing a procedure. When I was on the evening shift and you were assigned to my ward, you would relieve me in the Respiratory Intensive Care Unit, so I could have a quick meal and bathroom break. Another kindness.
You often referred to people as “turkeys” or called them “turkey” to their face in jest. Nobody seemed offended. I don’t ever recall that you called me a turkey.
After work, all I could talk about was you. I would say “Robbie did this” or “Robbie did that” and “Robbie said this” or “Robbie said that”. My family and friends got tired of hearing about Robbie, but I didn’t care.
I learned that you were almost exactly one year older than me. Your birthday is the end of May and mine the beginning of June. You limped because you had polio as a child. The reason you were so good with patients was that you had worked as an orderly.
I still love you but you will never know. This letter will never be sent. You are divorced, but I am married. Life is what it is.
4 thoughts on “Love from Afar by Hannah T. Williams”
Loved this and the twist at the end. Well done!
“It helped that you looked like Robert Kennedy, too.” Aha! The puckish confession. And the piece is also a glimpse into a calling that we all are especially aware of–and appreciative of–now.
Nursing is a calling. Caring for veterans was a privilege. Thank you for recognizing nursing.