She rolled a cart up to the door and tapped on the door frame. With a quiet smile she announced her role…”Housekeeping!”
I found it thoughtful for her to knock first. The door was always propped wide open…others came in and out freely.
No one ever knocked first.
She looked to be my age. I noticed a kindness about her. Her broken English was soft and considerate. I could see that she was there to do her job the best she could, do it as clandestine as possible, not disturbing anyone or anything.
Immediately, she went to the trash cans. Those overflowing with the minute by minute discard of necessary things. The odds and ends left from this treatment or that. Most everything in it had some piece of my son on it, his blood or his sweat…his DNA. She pulled them up and tied them closed and changed them out, all the while keeping her head down and focused. She worked quickly and efficiently. When she took out a wide microfiber mop and began damp mopping the floor, I sat down on the small couch on one side of the room and curled my feet under me.
I watched the mop as it worked back and forth. Wiping away all evidence of footprints that walked upon it. All traces of those who would come to offer their expertise, their help, their care.
Erasing the day before…starting a new day clean.
Quite incredible, I said. That mop is doing a wonderful job. Gets a wide area and dries so quickly! I can see it’s hospital grade. I need one of those at home.
Yes, she agreed. It is quite good.
She made a few other straightenings, organized her cart a little and looked my way.
Thank you! I said. Thanks so much. I appreciate how clean everything looks.
Yes. You are welcome.
I searched her name tag. Aurora.
Ah! Aurora! Like the Disney Princess! Sleeping Beauty.
I smiled at that. How sweet. Do you hear that often?
Yes. Yes, she did.
The next few days she would come in the very same. Religiously doing the same.
Often as she worked there was an important doctor or therapist in the room. Or a nurse doing his or her job. She would hear me ask questions. Hear me on the phone. She would witness my concern. In just a few minutes of her workday…she had an inside glimpse of my world.
And every day she knocked first.
Over the days she would begin to talk a little more. Nothing big or important. The how are you’s and the boy it’s hot outside’s. The small stuff. Other times she would simply do her work and always, always stop at the doorway and look my way. Smile. Nod.
I would thank her. Tell her how much I appreciated her work. See you tomorrow. Same Bat Time…Same Bat Channel (she looked puzzled at that…but smiled politely).
On one of those days, I could see she was working up courage. She finally asked…Is this your husband?
At that I smiled. It wasn’t an uncommon question.
This is my son.
Somehow that answer changed things. Drove something home.
She then asked me. Is he a soldier?
Yes, yes…he is.
Tears filled her eyes. She shook her head and finished mopping.
This time before she left the room, she turned to me and asked…
Will he be OK?
The question took me back a little. Well, a lot actually.
To be honest, no one asked me that. I had asked. And asked. Not with the direct words…but I asked.
So for the very first time I said it aloud. I took a deep breath and stood straight and tall and finally answered.
I don’t know. I just don’t know.
Aurora…it doesn’t look good.
Standing in the doorway, holding mop handle in hand, she asked if she could pray for us. She would like to pray.
Yes, please do. Thank you so much. I deeply appreciate you. Thank you, Aurora.
What I really wanted to say was please tell me that handle is a magic wand. Please tell me you can wave it and save my son. Mop all of this up, Aurora! Wash over it and make it disappear.
Way early in the mornings when I arrived before shift change, I’d see her in the hallways, often filling and straightening her cart (I don’t remember ever seeing her without that cart). I soon imagined it to be her coach, and I wondered if at some time it would turn into a chariot. All glistening and gleaming with the tools to clean heartbreak away.
At first we’d smile. Say good morning.
As days went on and I’d pass her in those halls, she’d often lay a hand on my forearm. Ask how I was doing. How is your son? Can I do anything for you? Do you need anything?
Yes, I’d say as always.
I need a miracle.
If she could do that, she surely would.
Everyone would say that to me.
I found I looked forward to her visits. I loved hearing the sound of the housekeeping cart roll toward our door. I loved noticing that it was Aurora that came to straighten our room and mop the floor.
Every morning asking me if I had needs or if she could do anything for me. Could she bring me anything?
I didn’t take her up on her offers, because she brought what I needed every morning. Simply by showing up.
Later, I decided to do a little research on Princess Aurora. I had a feeling that there was something magical about her. What did her name mean?
Roman Goddess of the Dawn. Because she filled life with sunshine. Light.
Of course it meant that.
Of course it did.
Each and every morning…on those days she was scheduled to work, she came to our door.
Bringing her own kind of concern, her own kind of light. Faithfully cleaning away the evidences of purple gloves all twisted and turned inside out and needles from the many tests and used up and discarded needful materials. Mopping up footprints of caregivers who came and went…often with little to no cure. Straightening up the room one more time…of all the remains and tell tale signs of urgent care. Offering us a clean slate. A fresh start to yet another hopeful day of living.
Ministering to me as only a Goddess of the Dawn could do.
Never assuming. So humble and kind.
Knocking first before she came in. Every time.
Knocking on the door of my heart.
Tending to our room.
Tending to me.