Two heavy posts. Yuck. But, this is one that needs to be told too, mostly for me.
I’m a Pediatric RN at our local, large children’s hospital. I work with children who are chronically ill. Don’t try to hide it, I’ve seen that look on your face before. That “ohhhh…how difficult” look. It’s ok. Some days are good, some days are bad. I hardly EVER watch children die. Medicines are better now, kids are healthier. Prior to becoming an RN Case Manager in this program, I pushed chemo into children with cancer. I watched a lot more of those children die. Once my own children came home, I couldn’t do it anymore. They actually looked like some of the children that died. It started to hit to close to my mommy heart.
In the clinic that I work in currently, I have quite a few young clients that are recently adopted from Africa (mostly Ethiopia, some from other places). The majority live in healthy homes with moms and dads who struggled to get them to the U.S because they wanted them, chronic illness and all. They live in families who have the means to get them their meds, and most importantly, care enough to watch them take them. There is the horrible stigma to deal with, but they have the best chance life has to offer.
Then, there are my teens. A lot of them were born into families that are fraught with chaos. A lot have parents that are ill themselves (some mental, some physical). I lose them a lot. Not to death, but to other places that are worse. I lose some to drugs. I lose some to mental illness. Occasionally, I lose them to the worst place of all…prison. I absolutely HATE going to the jail to see them before they’re shipped off to a state prison. The look in their eyes is horrible. It’s the look of total hopelessness. It’s the look that tells you that your words no longer matter, because they know where they are going and that it will shape how they are viewed for the rest of their lives. Every time I give quietly to the large prison ministry program in our community, hoping that one of my lost teens will be shown that there is hope. I want them to know that there is Someone who cares, no matter what.
Today, I lost one. A teen that just became an “adult” in the eyes of the law, but unfortunately, has worse decision making skills than my 6-year-old. I lost all the promise he showed. I lost all the hope that used to shine in his eyes. A little of myself went with him. I feel for the family that lost their child to the tragic events that have landed this young man where he is. I grieve for both of them. If he serves his full sentence, which he probably will, he will be older than I am now when he leaves prison. He has no education. He’ll be offered one in prison, but no one will hire him in any capacity. He knows it too. He begged me to write to him. He said no one else would. He asked me to send him cigarettes. I told him I’d send stamps (it’s the only other thing I’m allowed to send). There are no other words to describe this.
So, tonight I write another check to the prison ministry for this boy. I can only pray it will be the last one I ever write.