People who maintain a reservoir of Zen calm while a relative is in the ICU probably have something wrong with them anyway.
This sour-grapes mentality is precisely what I needed. Thank you Nina!
Lately I keep remembering an incident from a few years ago. It was a small act of kindness, but I've been thinking of it almost daily.
The incident also involved a relative in a hospital. The illness and person in question were different, but there were similar harrowing qualities of waiting in a hospital room.
After an exhausting 24 hours in the ER, my dad and I stopped at a shopping mall on the way home. I went to a Godiva chocolate store to buy a gift basket for the hospital workers.
The saleswoman came over, as I stood before a shelf with small and large baskets. She asked if she could help, and what kind of basket I was looking for.
"I want one with variety," I said. "It's for doctors and nurses in an ER. Something they can grab quickly as they're walking by."
She paused, then walked to a different shelf behind the register. "You probably want one with both solids and cremes..."
We discussed whether to get one giant box or two medium-sized boxes. I decided on two, for variety. I paid. She wrapped up the basket in plastic with a bow, whle she watched me write the card. My dad stood off to the side, stepping in only once with tips for the card.
We finished the transaction. As I turned to go, the saleswoman reached into the display case and pulled out a chocolate truffle, then another. "For you and your dad," she said, "on the house."
It really stayed with me, this touch of kindness in an otherwise purely professional transaction. The saleswoman probably forgot about it years ago, but I doubt I ever will.
I hope that I showed enough appreciation at the time, to encourage her to do it again for others in the future.