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The Lesson This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   It was a cold Saturday night and I was the only one left after dinner. Although I was alone, that didn't stop the calls for St. Clare's Junior Volunteers. I went to the most urgent page for a feeder on 3W. When I arrived on the floor a male nurse told me to be careful because the patient was combative; she'd thrown a cup of coffee. I realized that combative also meant violent.

I took the tray of food into the room and was startled to see her condition. She was sitting upright in her bed, but only because her bed was positioned that way. Her yellowish hair had been washed with leave-in shampoo and was now standing up every which way. The hospital gown was tied as tightly as it could and still it seemed to hang off her. She was staring at the wall and didn't even notice that I was in the room.

I was nervous, so I immediately started talking. Since we were on the third floor, I told her I enjoyed her view. Of course, it was pitch black but the blinds were partially drawn so she couldn't see. This gave me time to unwrap her food. The woman had broth, pureed meat loaf, pureed potato, pureed spinach. All were distastefully placed on the plate with an ice cream scoop.

I tried to get her to eat more than a few bites of the potato but she kept turning her head. Meanwhile, I started talking about sports, the ones I played, what position, the usual, to try to perk her up. I knew she had to eat to live, and she knew also, but she no longer cared. Never once did she talk, mutter a sound or look at me. To her I represented youth. Youth is what keeps your soul young, no matter what age you are. She had lost it and she didn't care to regain it. I was crestfallen when I reported to the head nurse that the patient in Room 373 wouldn't eat more than the few bites of pureed potato. The nurse was upset because she said that I shouldn't have been told to feed the dying woman. In a way I am glad I fed her. Although it left me with great sadness, in that brief time I realized so much about life and death. I had never encountered a dying person.The woman will never know how much she taught me. The moments we spent helped me realize so much about life that most people don't learn. Life is one battle after another, and you can never give up without a struggle. That day her struggle was over. fl


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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