Forewarning: this post is going to be really, really sappy. I’m emotional just writing it because my heart is so damn full.
A while ago I was given the opportunity to go back to Fairfax Behavioral Health Hospital to meet with my favorite nurse, Cassie. You’ve heard me talk about her before, and you’re probably going to continue to hear me talk about her for the rest of my life. I’m not exaggerating in the slightest when I say that I feel like I owe her the world. I’ve been preparing for this meeting for over a month now. Anxiety on anxiety, wanting everything to go perfectly while not even sure that she would remember who I am.
Yesterday the day finally came. I arrived and purposefully sat in the exact same seat I had sat in seven months ago while waiting to be admitted into the detox unit. At that time I was full of anxiety, confused by what my life had come to, and angry at both the world and myself. Yesterday I sat in that same seat but this time full of hope, courage, purpose, and thankfulness. But as I waited my anxiety started to get the best of me. I was playing a scenario over and over in my head that went like this: She would come get me, I would shake her hand and reintroduce myself, and then we’d have some sort of awkward 20 minute conversation followed by the two of us parting ways and never seeing each other again. I could not have been more wrong.
As I sat there getting more and more nervous, she snuck up beside me, wrapped her arms around me, and said, “I promised myself I wasn’t going to cry but I literally can’t help it.” So there we both stood, with tears in our eyes and gratitude in our hearts. It was like we were old friends seeing each other after years apart. We sat in a room and talked about life in recovery as well as life in general for well over an hour. I gave her a letter I had written for her that started out by saying, “I couldn’t go the rest of my life living in a world where you didn’t even know I existed when you changed my world so drastically.” Little did I know how drastically I had changed her world, too. She told me about how my blog post had been the talk of the hospital and how a coworker had told her about it but couldn’t remember the name of the writer. She knew it was me before she even read it. She told me how you either click with patients or you don’t, and explained how when she first saw me I was so lost and broken, yet she knew that I was going to be that patient for her. The one who validates the reason why you go into that field. The one who makes the hard days more bearable. The one who changes everything. For you, her remembering me may seem small and insignificant. For me, it was everything.
When I was a patient at Fairfax I was more lost, broken, defeated, and ashamed then I had ever been in my entire life. I was a version of myself that I had never met before, a version I didn’t even know existed. Cassie took me under her wing immediately. She sat with me in the hallway for hours as I rocked back and forth with my head between my knees. She kept me behind during meal times to make sure I would eat. She encouraged me to go to my first NA meeting there, but left with me when I started to panic. She advocated so hard for me to get out when I did so that I wouldn’t be spending my 21st birthday in rehab. I had forgotten how to love myself, so she reminded me how. I couldn’t fight for myself, so she fought like hell for me. She’s the reason I have “Fight For Yourself” tattooed on my arm and why I say “Fight For Yourself. Always” at the end of every blog post. I left Fairfax the day before my 21st birthday expecting to be just another patient and to never cross her mind again. But she didn’t forget about me. She let me help her become a better nurse, and in return she helped me become a better person.
Yesterday she told me, “You’re somebody who I’m going to have in my life forever.” Cassie, I’m honored to be in your life. And I’m even more honored to have you in mine. To the nurse who saved my life, and now my new friend, thank you.
I also want to give a huge shout out to Katy at Fairfax who organized all of this and has been nothing short of amazing! I’m telling you, these people at this hospital aren’t just there because it’s their job. They’re there because they genuinely care about every single person that walks in the door. They’re changing lives, and I’m so blessed that mine was one of them.
Fight For Yourself. Always.