Nurse Breaks Down In Nairobi Children's Ward

  • A file image of a hospital's paediatric ward
    A file image of a hospital's paediatric ward
  • Where to even begin.

    Mascara is streaking as warm tears flow down my cheeks, through my chin before dropping on my light blue scrubs.

    I just got home after pulling another nightshift at the paediatric hospital. 

    My 10th double shift in as many days.

    Sam (my 10-year-old son) is running around our cosy living room in readiness for another school day.

    File image of a school bus
    File image of a school bus

    Watching him all grown up and tying his laces in a neat bow triggered something.

    Were it not for some random link Mary (my bff) shared, school was off the table. 

    The link directed me to an article about some dad who broke down outside a Co-op Bank branch in Nairobi after securing a back to school loan for his daughter. 

    As fate would have it, I recently got the same deal. 

    More tears well up in the corner of my eyes.

    I try my best to keep my face away from him as I hurriedly make his sandwiches.

    I pack them in neat layers and squeeze in a banana inside an air-sealed plastic container.

    Keep it together...I tell myself.

    “Mum, are you ok?

    Too late. I didn’t hear him sneak up on me.

    “Yes love. Everything is ok. Mummy is just tired,” 

    I use every ounce of energy left inside my overworked body to squeeze out a smile. 

    It feels like the right moment to give him a big kiss smack on his forehead while tucking away his lunch inside his spiderman backpack.

    “Maaaam.” he mutters while wiping off some imaginary lipstick smudge.

    “Look who’s too grown up for a kiss,” I tease while rubbing my fingers through his head. Holding back more tears.

    A familiar honk breaks through the early morning...Saved by the bus, quite literally.

    One last hug and he’s off like a bolt.

    "Love you mum,” he shouts from halfway out the gate.

    The tears come like a raging flood.

    Nothing quite prepares you for any sort of tragedy.

    I still have a picture of us mounted on the wall, right above our 3-seater couch. 

    The three of us look so happy. So full of life. So content.

    We are now down to two. 

    Saying it out loud still feels surreal.

    One minute we are laughing our heads off. The next minute, he’s gone.

    His grunty laugh used to fill the room.

    He was ‘my one’. I never used to believe in all the mushi mushi stuff until him.

    He sold all his earthly possessions to get me through nursing school.

    I thought that saying goodbye would be the hardest thing. I was so wrong.

    Telling his son where his dad had gone was the hardest thing. 

    “He is with the angels,” I always say. 

    Never in a million years would I have thought that this was even a possibility.

    Now I'm back for another night shift. 

    I'm counting my blessings, I have an amazing job and a bright son. 

    And thank God Mary introduced me to Coop bank. 

    With the lost family income, they helped me get the back to school loan which I used to put Sam through school. 

    What's more, I didn't even have to leave work, all from the comfort of my seat!

    I'm soaked in tears but I only realise it when one of the children in my ward offers tissue.

    I'm overwhelmed but I gather enough courage to finish the shift, phew!

    A businesswoman checking messages on a smart phone
    A businesswoman checking messages on a smart phone