I awoke this morning to the sound of a garbage truck on the street outside. Yesterday was Christmas, but it was Friday which is our normal pick up day—so the garbage pick up was today. I had completely forgotten about pulling the cans to the curb. Panic set in, just a little bit anyway. I thought I might still have time to get them out and that they'd be picked up as he came back around. At least that's what I thought as I dressed hurriedly and ran out into the snow.
Yesterday was my first Christmas as a nurse. My children had been at their Dad's house for a week already. I volunteered to work on Christmas months ago, knowing I'd be home alone anyway. When I did that I had no way to know what the schedule would actually say. I remember looking at it for the first time at the end of November thinking, My boss must be crazy. I was scheduled to work Christmas Eve Night shift from 6 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. and Christmas Day from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. —7.5 whole hours off on Christmas day. My thoughts were confirmed as reality replaced the plan.
When I got to work Christmas Eve night, it started to snow. The shift was unremarkable and punctuated by sweetness. Like, for example, my favorite little man calling from his room at 2:30 a.m. so that he could be 'The first to wish you two beautiful girls a Merry Christmas.' It had been a good night. When the Day Nurse arrived, I was anxious about the snow I guess, knowing it was deep already and still coming down. We went through our routine and I was out the door on time, crawling home over a world blanketed white. When I arrived, it quickly became apparent that I wouldn't be able to get up the driveway. There was too much snow, and my wheels were spinning with even the small angle. I had to shovel off the driveway before I could pull into the garage, but finally made it in. When I did, I realized that my phone was buzzing. Then I realized that my pockets were heavy... I still had the keys, and sure enough it was the Day Nurse calling to tell me the same terrible truth. So, I got back into the car and headed back out onto the white frozen road. An hour later, I was home again. Exhausted. It was still snowing.
After a few hours of sleep, I peeked outside and realized that a good deal more snow had fallen and that a snow plow had pushed a mound of snow 18" high across the entire length of the end of my driveway. Another snow clearing would be necessary before I could go back to work. I got ready and headed out with my shovel. It was a feat, but I managed it and had just enough brute force left in me to get that pile at the end of the driveway pushed out of the way before climbing back into the car. I stopped on the way to have some Christmas lunch with my parents and a few of my sisters, by far the best part of the day. My mother is a wonderful cook. I felt their love, filled up on roast beef and mashed potatoes and my great grandmother's special salad and was off again. My father always buys a few pounds of See's candies to share with us girls. The work day was work. Needless to say, by the time I finished my Christmas Day shift, I was utterly spent. I pulled into the garage, grateful for not having to shovel the drive a third time. And that's honestly about all I was thinking about when I crawled into bed again, grateful that I could finally get some solid sleep.
It was about 9:30 when I heard that garbage truck, and I was unsure that I'd even be able to pull those garbage cans out from the side of the house. I was sore, and the mounds I'd created along the side of the drive were significant. I raced out however, knowing that we'd need the space in the cans for the coming week. As I was coming down the driveway with the can, the garbage truck stopped. I stopped, too. He motioned for me to bring the can across the street, and waited for me... so of course I did. After he had emptied the contents, he unrolled the window to let me know that he had already come down my side of the street, but he didn't want me to miss out. I was so grateful.
So, I'd just like to thank the Driver of the garbage truck. I did, of course, when he rolled down the window to talk to me. There wasn't time to tell him how truly much it meant to me, but it was very meaningful to me, to be seen and have that small need noticed. He didn't know about the days I'd had recently or how tired I was. He didn't have to stop for me: His work was done on my side of the street. But, he did stop and wait and make sure I was taken care of. I hope to take a little of that Spirit and Example forward with me through the rest of the month and into the coming year. Those small things mean a lot to one who's struggling. I hope I can be aware enough to see them and try to make the difference for those around me.