The NICU Nurse – One Step from Heaven

For more than 12 years now, I’ve worked with families who have babies in the NICU, with parents whose babies were born early, sick, and tiny. And over the years, I have been so fortunate to get to know the very special people who take care of these babies, these families. And, I’ve always thought they are special. I’ve always been grateful for the work they do. And I’ve listened to the families as they’ve expressed their gratitude for the nurses.

But the other day I sat with a NICU nurse and we spoke about the losses. About doing everything possible, about being with the families, about being with the babies, about the passing from life to death. About both the expected and the unexpected. And I realized that these very special people, these nurses who work with the smallest, the sickest, the weakest and yet the strongest of babies are a link between heaven and earth.

I’m not religious, but I believe in a whole, in a being, in a goodness. And I believe that babies are as close to a greater being as we can get, and when a baby passes from life to death, there is witness to heaven. And NICU nurses are there. They are there just one step from heaven with these families, with these babies. They live for the successes, for the babies who grow up and thrive, but they are there even for those who don’t. They provide comfort. They hold onto memories even as families implode. They keep vigil, hold hands, comfort when comfort is impossible, and bear witness with eyes and arms wide open to a loss as profound as faith itself.

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