My husband is great at asking thought provoking questions. Part of the reason I love our date nights together is that it gives us time to actually talk through these questions, instead of spouting off the first five words that come to mind in the midst of dealing with our 14 month old son and whatever attention sapping antic he is up to.
I sat a restaurant across the dinner table from my husband of six years to the day (it was an anniversary date), and thought, what would I do, if not nursing?
The truth is it’s difficult for me to imagine doing anything other than my dream job as a labour and delivery nurse. It took me a long time to figure out what I wanted to do when I ‘grew up.’ After acquiring a Bachelor of Arts degree in History, I realized that though interesting while it lasted, my four years of schooling didn’t amount to much in the way of providing a financially stable career. It was late one night, while studying for my Sub-Saharan African History exam, that the thought popped into my head. Maybe I could be a nurse. It wasn’t quite as left field as you may think. I had been struggling for some time with the enormity of the problems we discussed in class, with my uselessness in light of the tragedies that left so many nations so devastated. I had been wondering what I could do to help, to make a difference in the world. Nursing, I knew, was a profession of caring, of impacting people’s lives, and that appealed to me. So perhaps it wasn’t such a strange thing that I should consider that as a potential career choice.
Except that if you knew me back then, you would respond as my Dad did when I told him I was considering it: “You? A NURSE?!?!?!” This accompanied by a shocked and disapproving expression. I can’t really blame him though. My whole life I was the kid who cried when I watched the SPCA commercials on TV. I also hated anything to do with science, and did the absolute bare minimum I could get away with, preferring to focus my energies on Drama, and English Literature in high school. The idea of me actually dealing with human suffering, or being able to pass a biology class was, to put it plainly, ludicrous.
So I put the idea on the back burner, and looked for a different way to contribute. Two years of managing an education project in Afghanistan only convinced me further that while it’s great to help educate kids, if they aren’t surviving past the age of 5, eventually, there will be no one left to educate.
So in 2012, seven years after I first considered becoming a nurse, I graduated as an RN from the University of Alberta’s After Degree Program with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, and immediately landed the best job in the world: Labour and Delivery.
As I explained to my husband, last Saturday night, there really isn’t any job as great as mine. Though it comes with it’s stressful moments and challenges, I see a miracle everyday. How can any other job compare with that? But though he listened patiently, I knew he would want an answer, so I considered it carefully, talking it out as i usually do when I need to process something.
And as I talked it out, I realized there was one other thing I would have considered doing with my life, given the opportunity and avenue to do so.
I used to write frequent e-mails to friends and family back home when I lived in Afghanistan, and then through my three years as a newlywed in rural Saskatchewan. And I loved it. Sometimes I still write those e-mails, full of anecdotes of daily life, or observations on the state of the world from my point of view, only now I archive them, and hide them away in my draft box.
In the days since that conversation, I have been unable to let it go. I try to push the thoughts aside. I argue that I am busy enough as it is, that I should be focusing on other things, like exercising, or organizing my home, or spending more time on my spiritual development. Which I should. But something about the idea of writing again is so enticing, so inspiring, so exciting, so terrifying. And I haven’t been able to let it go.
So here I go.