“There’s No Nobler Profession”

From an early age, I wanted to be a nurse just like my mother. She had been an operating room nurse and had loved it. “There’s no nobler profession,” she’d say, and I agreed. She told lively stories about her experiences with the patients and surgeons, and when I got older, I began to write some of them down in a journal. After I finished nursing school, I got a job working the night shift in the emergency room of a Boston hospital. The night shift or “the graveyard” shift as we called it, and not because it was quiet, sometimes began as early as 8:00pm and finished at 7:00am. Most of the time, it was so busy, I had to remember to breathe—especially Friday and Saturday nights and certain holidays like the 4th of July or Christmas—I saw gunshot wounds, stabbings, burns, overdoses and battered women from every background— most survived and — some died.