Monday, May 10, 2010


A few weeks ago, I was watching Brian Depalma's movie "The Untouchables" with my son. One of my favorite moments in the movie was toward the end, when Costner, as Elliot Ness, looked at the picture that the reporter had snapped of the four main characters at the celebratory dinner after their first bust. He had accomplished his goal-- bringing down Al Capone-- but at a cost-- Chicago cop Malone (Sean Connery) and Treasury Agent Wallace (Charles Martin Smith) were felled at different times.

The picture at the top of this post is my version of that picture. It was a shot of my clinical group my first semester of nursing school, at Illinois Masonic Hospital, along with our wonderful instructor, Mrs. Murphy.

In March, Mrs. Murphy's husband, a retired Chicago cop, passed away. It was devastating to those of us who'd had her as an instructor. Not only is she a terrific teacher, but in the clinical setting, she modeled compassion and never forgetting that it was a human being you had as a patient, not a "case."

At the beginning of the semester, we discovered that two classmates-- Eric, the guy to the far left in the picture, and Kate, who was not in that clinical group, had dropped out, both because of pregnancies. Kate and her husband had been trying to get pregnant for some time, and she happily decided to defer nursing school until some future date. Eric, who is in his early twenties, dropped out after discovering his girlfriend was pregnant. I had tried to talk some sense into him-- pointing out that life with a child would be much easier as a nurse than as a retail clerk. He didn't take my advice.

Today, I got a call from Cyd, the woman in the first row, to the left of Mrs. Murphy. She told me that two people from our class last semester, Raj and Nancy, did not make grades good enough to continue. Raj, who was in a different clinical group, was closer to my age. Nancy, who is in the top row, two people to the left of me, is in her early twenties.

When one goes through an intense experience with people, it bonds you to those people. Organizations such as the military and fraternities use this, deliberately putting people through grueling experiences in order to create long-term bonds. Sometimes it's not deliberate, but the bonds are still there. I'm still very close to the people I went to college with over 25 years ago.

I'm also close to the people who I started out this journey with. Looking at that picture, I see people who I've become close friends with-- Bisrat, Karen, Cyd, Mayra-- and people I know I'll stay in touch with for the rest of my life. We all look out for one another. With Raj and Nancy having to drop from the program for at least a year (they can retake Nursing 102 next year, and are guaranteed a berth in the program if they decide to retry it) I feel a profound sense of loss.


SkylersDad said...

Going through a shared experience like that really does bond you to others, I am sorry that some of your group has had to leave.

Churlita said...

Sorry about your friends who didn't make it. It was like that for me in the California Conservation Corps. I haven't heard from any of those people in years, and I would love to know what they're up to.

mi said...

wow, it's like a last man standing, though no one wants anyone to fail.
glad to hear you've made some lifelong friends from it.

GETkristiLOVE said...

It's like all the RIFs we have at work. It's hard to take the loss and hard to be the one that stays too.