Friday, April 27, 2007

Your people and My people

I'm having a weird, untimely recollection:
I was hospitalized again for preterm labor in winter 2001 when a massive earthquake hit Afghanistan. The nurse's aide was shaken, awaiting news of her family, whom she couldn't contact. As she folded an extra blanket at my feet, her hands, with their long, thin fingers, were shaking.
"I'm so sorry," I said, not able to think of the right thing to say, but knowing (from my own experience) that empty reassurances were not the right thing.
She was teary when she said sharply, pointing at my abdomen, "You worry about your people and I'll worry about mine."
This followed the wisdom of each of the nurses and nurse's aides who had informed me that my "worry" was advancing the preterm labor, just as holding my hands over my belly was (and who would later give me all kinds of arcane and contradictory advice about breastfeeding). That is, she wasn't accusatory in the way it first seems. But even then, I thought "That's precisely the problem." And I said nothing.

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