It was inevitable. The emotions and the insensitivity that holds hands with ignorance was sure to find its way to the halls of our places.
I was leaving one of our hospitals last night following a medical staff meeting. I stopped by the office on the second floor to grab my laptop. It was just after 8:00 PM. I prepared for the 100 mile drive through the cold North Carolina night.
As I approached the elevators I noticed a woman sitting on the bench in our alcove. Another peering out over the courtyard from the nearby balcony. Both of them donned in colorful hijab. “Good evening” I offered to the young woman on the bench. She mustered a polite smile and and returned with an almost inaudible, “Hello.” A tear clearly streaming as she sat, hands crossed and head down.
I approached and asked if there was anything I could do for them. “I don’t want to intrude, but can I help?”
She thanked me and said they were there visiting a brother who is very ill, but progressing day by day to a better state. Her mother approached and offered a pleasant greeting of her own.
She went on to tell me that the family in the room next to their loved one was making it clear that they didn’t like being around “Those people” and that one had just made the comment: “Do you feel good about what happened over there yesterday?” He was obviously referring to the tragedy in Paris.
Not one to confront, they turned and retreated for a moment to our little safe corner to gather their emotions and leave the sickening prejudice that found them in the hallway of our place of healing.
Sadness gripped me and my chest tightened. I took a deep breath and offered a sincere apology.” The girl said, “It’s not your fault…we get this.” That may be sadly true, but they were in my “house” and dealing with their own tragedy of a hurting loved one. They deserved to be here to be cared for AND cared about.
We talked for a moment more about their brother. They offered high praise for our nurses and doctors and so many others who unselfishly and compassionately offer their talent and heart to keep this good man here for those who so clearly love him.
In a moment of the greatest irony, the young lady said, “If I could, I would offer my scarf to cover your ears as you go into this night.” We all laughed. A brief and light moment in the midst of such pain. We parted with nice thoughts for one another.
I offered my own prayer for them as I drove the long stretch of highway to Charlotte. I prayed for his healing and for their peace and joy. I prayed for the other family that they too find their own peace and comfort as they were surely dealing with their own pain. I hoped that one day they might find that under the corporate dress, the jeans and flannel, or the hijab there are humans with common values and hopes and love.
As I wrote to another friend yesterday, morality (or lack of it) is not a product of religion, nor is it “faith-based.” A call to good may be a part of your faith or religion. To suggest that those who don’t subscribe to your belief system are any less “moral” is the stuff of the finest folklore. But humans will do what they do; rationalize their actions by associating it with some club membership.
I want to thank our caregivers—representing almost every known religion and faith—who come together inside these walls to be a part of making THIS life one that is as full as it can be. And for those same caregivers who lovingly put their arms around those whose time it is to leave and hold hands with those left to grieve. The God I know is disgusted with the terror in Paris…and wherever else it rears its monstrous head. He is just as disgusted with the prejudice offered in the name of said club membership—be it geographic, ethnic, religious, or ideology—invented by man for the sake of order and justification.
To my new friends…be well. You are good souls and I am honored that we may care for you and your family. To the many thousands of our people who show up every day for the better of person kind, I am honored to be with you.