Time Heals All
Written by Rachel
I ran my hand along his face. The beard had started to fill in slightly.
I would need to tend to that shortly, after I had bathed him. It had been
so long since I had taken care of anyone near my own age. It was a little
disconcerting. He was so silent. They were drugging him, keeping him
unconscious so he could heal. It was hard to watch him this way, but it
would probably be harder to be near him when he awoke.
I never knew what to expect when Sister Grenata would call me for private
duty. Sometimes it was old men who had suffered strokes, sometimes wealthy
women who had given birth and wanted a little more attention. I had once
taken care of a young boy who suffered from a terrible genetic disease. I
had watched his mother, seven months pregnant, as she grieved for the child
dying in the bed as well as the one in her womb facing the same prognosis.
This call had presented me with Detective Tim Bayliss. He was thirty-seven
years old, shot in the line of duty. The bullet rest against his spine.
The doctors didn't know if and when they might be able to remove it. If it
remained he would surely be paralyzed, if it was removed he could die in
the surgery. Until he was well enough to leave St. Gracia's, I would take
care of him.
I carefully slipped a towel underneath him, barely moving him. The bullet
was unstable, so I didn't want to risk injuring him further. I moved my
cloth slowly back and forth over his body. The blood and sweat were still
present from the shooting the night before. I did my best to clean him up
as much as possible. I moved the cloth up his chest, along his rib cage.
Finishing, I tied his gown back up and turned my attention to his whiskers.
Pulling the razor from the table I moved it back and forth across the
leather strap, sharpening the blade so it wouldn't pull at the fuzz of hair
now apparent across his face. I lathered his face with the shaving cream
and then pulled the razor across it, leaving the skin soft and bare.
I rinsed the cloth in the warm water again and wiped the last of the cream
from his face. He looked like an angel, relaxed in his unconscious
slumber. Whatever would he think when he awoke?
I work the relief shift, from 3 pm to eleven at night. I try to sleep when
I get home, but often I'm too keyed up. I slipped the white nurses shoes
from my feet as I closed the door to my apartment. Big Kitty, my calico,
appeared from the kitchen and followed me as I walked into the living room
and dropped down on the sofa. What must have been going through Detective
Bayliss' head as he lay on the ground, helpless, cut down by the bullet
from an assassin's gun?
I didn't know the actual particulars of his case, only what I had heard on
the news about a arrest gone wrong, but in my mind anyone who would hurt
such a beautiful man had to be an assassin.
My eyes glazed as I tried to follow the plot of the "Law & Order" playing
on A&E, but I had joined it ten minutes in and the plot had already spun
out of control. Sliding off the couch, I headed for my bedroom to try and
wipe Tim Bayliss from my mind.
I moved his legs up and down as he watched under hooded eyes. The physical
therapist came in the morning, but it was important that we keep him supple
until they could start therapy. Until the bullet's location stabilized,
though, he was confined to his bed. The orderly would assist me in moving
him so he wouldn't get pressure sores, but other than simple range of
motion, there wasn't much else we could do for him.
I slipped my hand under the sheet, trying to take care of his bodily needs
without too much fuss. I stopped when I felt his hand on my wrist.
"Why do you do that?" he intoned, his voice thick with disuse.
"What do you mean?" I replied, slipping my hand away, the tubing and KY
jelly still in it.
"I know what you're doing under that sheet, why don't you just make it
easier on both of us."
I blushed. I had gone into private nursing because I wasn't very good with
the patients. I was much more likely to have someone in a coma then to
have someone like this detective questioning me.
"I just thought it would be easier...for both of us," I stammered.
He pulled the sheet down as far as he could, exposing his hospital gown and
thin, white legs.
"If I'm going to be like this, I want to know what the hell you are doing
to me," he replied, sounding more angry.
I nodded and began again, pulling his gown up, exposing his body. I
slipped the tubing into him, holding it carefully so the urine bag could
fill easily. After a few minutes I removed the tubing and pulled his gown
"Did you want the sheets pulled back up?" I asked. He nodded. Good, maybe
we were done talking for a while.
I disappeared into the bathroom, noting his output on the chart and then
disposing of the contents of the bag. I flushed the toilet, washed my
hands and walked back into the room.
"Will you be okay if I step out for a moment?" I asked.
He nodded. I moved toward the door, stopping only at the sound of his voice.
"Thank you," he said. I nodded, looking back at him quickly and then
escaped to the relative calm of the small kitchen behind the nurses station.
"Here we go, Tim," Jack, the tall orderly said as he slid his arms up and
under the detective's shoulders. This was a sitting transfer, along a
sliding board into an over-sized wheelchair. It wasn't the kind that you
saw in marathons or those paralympics, but rather the kind that you stick a
more than six foot man when he has been unable to do anything but lie in
bed for almost three weeks. The bullet had finally been determined to be
stable and Detective Bayliss had decided to wait on the surgery. They had
gotten him up the day before when I was off, so this was my first time
seeing him sitting up.
"How do you feel?" I asked as a little bit of the color began to return to
"Still makes me dizzy," he responded.
I nodded. After lying in bed it wasn't unlikely that he would feel quite
"Can we go down the hall?" he asked. "My mom said there was a sunroom
I nodded again and pushed him slowly into the hallway. His dark hair was
greasy and matted. They had washed it with the dry shampoo, but it really
didn't do much good. I would have to see if we could arrange a shower for
I pushed him past the other rooms with quiet televisions and the hum of
conversations. There were only a couple of other people in the sun room,
so I pushed his chair in the corner and sat down next to him.
"You don't have much company," I said, fingering the hem of my white uniform.
"No," he responded. "I told the other people...the ones at Homicide to
stay away. It's not good for them to see somebody like this. My mom comes
during the day, but she doesn't like to drive after dark. It's okay
though. You come every night."
I looked up through my too-long bangs. What did he mean by that?
"You're quiet, but I like that. You're gentle and I know that you care,"
he answered. "You know, you're blushing."
I could feel my face growing even redder.
"I haven't had that very often," he responded.
How could that be? Tim seemed like someone who would have lots of people
to care for him. I stood up and walked toward the window. I heard a noise
and turned to see him slowly pushing his chair toward me. I sat down on
the cool granite of the window sill, facing him. He panted slightly from
"What's out there?" he asked.
I looked over my shoulder. "A parking lot, some green space. The nurses
eat out there sometimes, when the weather is nice. There's a courtyard
where patients and their families go. We could go out there sometime, when
it gets warmer."
He nodded, probably realizing for the first time just how long he might be
confined here. He was doing better, though, so he wouldn't need me much
I stood up. "We should probably get you back into bed. You shouldn't be
up too long."
Sister Grenata called me this morning. There's a man who came for stomach
surgery who had an embolism burst during the procedure. He will need round
the clock care, probably for the next few months. I told her no. I realize
that this is how it happens. I move from patient to patient, never knowing
if they recover or they die. I think it's time for me to do something
different, to start to develop some meaningful relations. I think that
it's time for me to start caring for people.