This is an old post from Life & Times. The reason I am having it reappear is because the person I write about has been in my mind, much like it was before she had her first baby. It makes me wonder if I am thinking about her suddenly for the same reason.... perhaps she'll be on my unit on my next shift.
The Red Thread
There is a saying from Chinese folklore that I had come across years ago that stuck with me. It's referred to as the Red Thread. According to this ancient thinking, an invisible red thread is attached from ourselves to others in our lives. The red thread may stretch, shorten, tangle, but never break. This saying is used quite a bit among the international adoption community (mostly China). I have always believed that the people that are in our lives are always connected to us. And those that we do not see or have contact with in the current, like the people of our past and of our future, somehow remain invisibly connected. Hence, the invisible red thread.
I had a very close friend for several years when I was in nursing school. We met when I started working a new job at a local hospital. I didn't know what to think of her initially, as she was very chatty and sometimes spastic. But eventually, we ended up being fast friends. She was also in nursing school. She lived close by. We even had a mutual friend without knowing each other for many years. Our friendship carried through my entire nursing school career, but started to fizzle soon after. Things at first seemed to be related to her moving on with a new boyfriend, but soon it was evident that she was doing some very hurtful things that I had been unaware of.
Now, hang in there, this does have an obstetrical related piece.
So once I became aware of the mean spirited things that she had done, I ended the friendship. One clean cut of the knife and I was done. We both remained in contact with our mutual friend, but never with each other.
Life went on, but I somehow was always in on any new updates in her life. The mutual friend liked to keep me informed whether I wanted to know or not. I am sure that this mutual friend was doing the same in reverse direction but I never cared to ask. And so through the years I heard of her trials and tribulations (and believe me, this girl had tons of it, even when I was friends with her). Then I lost contact with the mutual friend and no longer heard about my ex-friend.
This past spring I remember very clearly having sudden thoughts about her. I came to the realization that we continued to have many similarities or coincidences in our lives. We both dated and married men we had known for many years prior to the courtship. We both moved to the same state once we were engaged. We both married at the same age. We both continued to work in the state we were originally from. And for some strange reason, I kept feeling that she was pregnant. I had no reason or proof to substantiate that. But I felt it very strongly.
I went to work one April morning. It was quiet on the unit. There were only 5 patients who were delivered. Only one patient was in labor; I saw that it was her name on our census board and almost fell over. I had been assigned to work in the nursery that day.
She had no idea that I worked there, so I knew that she wouldn't purposely have her eyes out for me. But I was so worried about it, so paranoid for some reason that my entire shift felt muddy and I had difficulty concentrating. I told all of the other nurses I was working with that I knew her, what she did to me, why we were no longer friends. I was reassured by her nurse that she had no plans of walking the halls.
But there was something inside me that could not settle. I wondered about her labor. Was she doing ok? What was she having? Did she know? What did she look like now? How did she look as a pregnant woman? I wanted to know, but then was upset that these thoughts were running around my head.
She did not deliver on my shift. The next day I was again assigned to the nursery. Her baby was the only baby in the nursery when I came on shift. I worried about her feelings about me caring for her newborn. But then I reasoned that my signature on any documentation was my married name, which she wouldn't know, and she wasn't in any condition (according to report) to be coming to the nursery. Her baby looked just like her. Same features, same face, same petite frame. I wondered what she would think of me holding her baby, shortening that red thread.
At the end of the second shift, as I was walking towards the locker room, I saw that her door was wide open. I had to walk towards it to get to the locker room, there was no way around it. It was dark in her room, but I could clearly see her silhouette in the bed, sitting bolt upright. She was facing the open door. I kept walking, then made the turn to the locker room, causing that red thread to stretch back to its previous length.