There seems to be a thread in my family regarding service and caretaking. My grandmother wanted to be a nurse, but spent her working career as a nurses’ aide. Sprinklings of cousins are nurses. My godmother is. My mother, whom is one of the strongest women I know, was a nurse for forty years. I, myself, have chosen that path of service in the form of nursing and social work. In the almost year I have worked at a local hospital, I have encountered prejudices, sorrow, faith and the elemental need for the appreciation of the human condition. This week, I saw evidence of something else: resilience.
This week, there is a older woman on my floor 2 years younger than my grandmother would be if she were living. I have watched her fight to survive for the last 2-3 days. From moving to breathing to medicine. Tonight, while she was breathing heavy, labored and restless, I helped her to the bathroom. After that, I helped her back in bed, bore her up as she stood to clean her up. As I helped her back in bed, she sat on the side of it–winded. When she let me help her into bed again, oxygen in her nose, heart leads on her chest, and fluids running, she as able to lie down. As she looked to get comfortable, and finally was, I almost wept and hugged her.
This nation, in all its sovereignty, has never allowed us the luxury of black women to rest. Demure is not the nature of soldiers in times of battle. We have never have the luxury to not have and develop the stamina to survive, fight and be resourceful. Our peace is because of war: the world outside, inner turmoil, protection and girding of family. There’s a reason why there is this toughness to black women, this inner-tapped strength. We were hewn from rock so our anchors hold. We are shown to hone and use every slight, every broken place and piece for our good, and betterment. We have used these slings and arrows of outrageous fortune and used, armed, weaponized them to turn what was meant to kill into salvation. We know what it’s like to not have and need and make up as you go along. It is the fire that made us, because it dared consume us.
These invisible lessons gleaned and seen teach us that life is not fair but if you fight, there is justice. And in order for there to be justice, there must be one willing to see it and fight for it. If not for them, but those that will come after. The path must be laid for them, through their own pressing it is made straight. Beaten and worn because they were shown where to go, and how to get there by one wise enough, strong enough to endure…when it would be easier to give up.
Fortune, indeed, favors the brave.
Black women, too, are brave.