In working nights for almost a year, and having been a mother for the last decade, I am still mystified by the rising of the sun each morning. I look forward to that crossing over from night to day. I look forward to the alpenglow. I get upset when I don’t see it right away.
Since I was a girl, I have been fascinated with light, especially sunlight. I would sleep in the sun to stay warm, watch my skin look more honey and browned while I absorbed all the sun gave. Now, those same sunrises have different meaning.
I work in healthcare, I have seen people pass before suns rise. I have seen people look past the light in their rooms to the unknown and known–those hands that reach forward and back. I have seen people with their dimming of their eyes like candles near open windows. I have seen them fight for the lingering light.
I have seen Death.
I have walked halls, in and out of rooms, looking for it. I have assessed, reassessed, charted and reported any signs of him. This entity that has residence that hopelessness unlocks and unrolls mats for. It lingers in doorways, in lobbies, in the faces of us that look in faces looking for evidence that he is not present. We ward him off with our uniforms and medicine and tools—so they can yet see the sun.
The patron saints of this profession are Florence Nightingale and Hippocrates. Hippocrates gave a natural basis for the physical ailments. Florence was reported and noted to go up and down her halls seeing those she was carrying for. They knew it was her, that they would be okay, because of the light she carried.
Working overnight gives us a unique heritage to follow. We fight for those whom can’t for the preservation of their life…and their light. Sunrises are best above ground.