Poppi Iceland

Poppi Iceland
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November 11
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JUNE 29, 2010 4:55PM

The Boy No One Would Hug

Rate: 62 Flag

      Jordan spent his days and nights alone.  His family had disowned him years ago. His partner took off when he became seriously ill, telling Jordan, "I just can't deal with the drama!"

     When I asked what he meant by drama, he waved his arm around the isolation room and said:

     "This, this drama of dying. It's too much for him to deal with. The hospital, the machines, needles, spacesuits, me leaving him forever when I die.  Kenny is at his breaking point. In a way, it is for the better. I don't want him to see what I've become."

    "What have you become, Jordan, besides sick?"

    "I am a monster, I looked in the mirror in this table during the night. I don't even look like me anymore."

    "You've lost a lot of weight, but you still look handsome to me, Jordan"

    He got quiet for a while, not saying anything while I changed his many dressings. Kaposi's Sarcoma can be aggressive. Jordan's lesions had spread from his back and chest to his face. Each lesion teeming with virus, a blatant reminder that KS can be unforgiving and deadly.

    "Poppi, I've often thought of you as an ally in all this, just in case I don't get a chance, I just wanted to say thank you."

    "For changing your bandages?"

    "Yes, for that, but for not running out the door when you are finished. Not many stay and just talk to me, or sneak in pizza deliveries." he laughed.

    "It's no problem, Jordan. I like our visits, and I cannot let you be pizza deprived while you are stuck here in this room."

   "I miss Kenny, I've called and left him messages.  I need to see him, just one last time. I just want to hug him one more time."

   "I'll call him and see what I can do to get him here."

    I called Kenny several times, left messages and got no response. The weeks flew by, Jordan's illness progressed. he developed lung infection and lost his sight. Kenny still did not return my calls, Jordan was running out of time. I gowned up to say goodnight after my shift.

    "Poppi, I feel weird, like I'm not really here. I'm scared." Jordan began to cry. "He's not coming, I'm going to die alone."

     "Sssh, you're not alone. Don't be afraid, you are not alone."  I said as I stroked his hair and gently picked him up into my arms.

     "Don't hug me, Poppi, you'll get sick and die too!  I'm a plague!"  sobbed Jordan.

     "Jordan, stop, you are not a plague, you are Jordan, and I am your nurse and your friend, you are not alone here." I said softly.

     His blind eyes began to look far away.  I had seen that look a thousand times before. He would leave very soon.

    "Poppi, I'm so glad you're here. Don't let go!" he whispered.

    "Not letting go, Jordan, I've got you right here." I whispered back.

     "Look, my grandma is there, and my aunts and Grandpa!! Wave to them, Poppi!"

     I waved in the direction he pointed. The air there seemed to glimmer.

     "I think they are here for you, Jordan. Let go and run to them, there's no need to stay. Your family is calling you, it's okay"

     "I heart you nurse flower girl....thank you...."  he whispered and was gone.  The air in the room got cold, the strange light he had pointed at was gone.  I let go of Jordan and gently lay him on his pillow.  I called the house officer to pronounce him.

     The doctor did his cursory examination and pronounced Jordan dead.

     He looked at me puzzled and said: "Are you working an extra shift?"

     "No, I am off duty, I stopped by to say goodnight and he was getting ready to go, so I stayed. He didn't want to die alone. I stayed and I hugged him.  Nobody should die alone."

     "He was a nice kid, I'm glad you stayed. Nobody deserves this damn disease. You were probably the only person to hug him in the past year."


     It was one am by the time we finished Jordan's final care and trip to the morgue. Plus I had to explain why I had stayed to the supervisor.  She started to grumble about boundaries, the doctor told her it was kindness that made me stay with the boy no one else would hug. She shut up very quickly.

    As I walked to my car, I thought about Jordan, how he missed Kenny and ended up alone in his illness. When I got back to my apartment, I dialed the number I had memorized and left a final message.

    Kenny never returned that call either. 



   Copyright 2010 Poppi Iceland

***Names have been changed for privacy

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Poppi, I swear I thought I would get through the afternoon without any tears. You have a special gift, not just the one of hands which work to heal, but also the gift to share with us in an incredible way. I could feel the room, and your hug. Thank you for this post.

To die alone is a travesty. I have watched people die in my life and I thank you for beng there for him.
Rated with hugs
I bow my head to you for your love and courage. There should be more of that in this world. You are special. Smile - Jali
Thank you for the goosebumps and the tears. Poppi, you are a wonderful writer, but more importantly, you are a wonderful human being. _r
Rated with a tear in the corner of my eye. Really, it's just one . . .
ah this is redemptive...thank you.
and what a beautiful title...
Compassion in action.
Thank you for being the one that would hug him. Screw you, Kenny, wherever you are.
No one should ever die alone; you did a good thing. I believe there are angels among us and it seems that you are one of them.
What a beautiful and touching story. You are such an exceptional story teller.
Sorry for the sad story, Jordan's anniversary is coming up and he was on my mind. He really made an impression on me, he was trying to be so brave all on his own at his own dying at 25. Thanks for reading and remembering him with me.
Bravo is all I can say, very heartfelt.
My heart aches for Jordan whose Kenny wouldn't come to be with him but is grateful for you who hugged him as he died and let him not be alone. What a blessing you were to him in these moments.
Thank you for the light you shine and the comfort you give. Oh, and for the believable and touching dialogue. You craft a great story.
Hugs YOU, Poppi. You are really an angel, aren't you?

P.S. Fuck Kenny. In a fair world he will die alone, with no Poppi to hug him.

P.P.S. Jesus, you are brave to write this stuff. I can't believe how brave you are!
It was kindness that made her stay.

I'd say it is love for mankind that made you stay, and that is not as common as one thinks. This is an extraordinary story.

When you think about it, living without human contact for so long, the sheer isolation that would bring, I cannot, I don't want to, imagine. I guess if we were to say, imagine he is not someone you don't know or someone you feel judgemental toward, imagine if he is your father, your brother, your child. Perhaps, if we did, we would learn to love, too.
I wont pile on Kenny - he may have feared his own pending mortality than Jordans and may have already been infected. But if I could talk to him I would tell him that providing hospice, if even for a moment, is perhaps the greatest gift. I did it for my father and it changed my heart dramatically in ways I could never have expected. Jordan lost his life, Kenny lost a life lesson.
Blessings to you Poppi and to everyone who does what you do.
Thanks for all your kind comments, you are all so wonderful!
Vanessa is right about the isolation being bad for you. Imagine being stuck in the same room for almost a year. I was truly worried for this boy's state of mind, isolated and abandoned when he needed people the most. I think I would go insane if I were locked away from the world. These crazy ideas run through my mind when I take care of people, I try to think of how I would feel in their situation and do what I can to help make it at least tolerable if not better. Somebody famous, I cannot recall who, said "no man is an island" it is so so true. We all need each other.
Oh, my goodness! What a tale. What a marvelous, marvelous tale. I was so there with you and Jordan. Thank God, you are one of those evil "boundary" breakers. Those people make my rear itch. I thank you for this with tears flowing. Excellent tribute to the boy nobody would hug.....
You write so well I was gowned up in the room with you. A big dope-slap (as my boss would say) to Kenny and to that supervisor that somehow lost her compassion along the way. Although I can't slap her too hard. That happens to the best of us.
Poppi, shall I write you the very first thing that came to mind? I hope you will be there when I die. Now, I am not dying or anything that I know of, and probably I meant someone like you there, should I be alone. But in that instant of ending, I became the person you comforted and I received your care. I sped away on light accompanied by family.

The greatest service we as the living can provide, is perhaps care to each other, especially compassion, warmth, and understanding. How it all ends is really the same for each of us. We die. How better it is to die with someone who can ease that transition for us. I once saw a film once where a woman is trying to help downed flyers in France, as she cradles a dying young man in uniform, she tells the Germans who shot him in a church, that "when you are dying you all ask for your mothers". As nurse, she had held both Germans in WWI and now in WWII, as they lie dying on the battle field. In that moment I realized how profoundly important a person can be to someone who is dying. They can become whomever that person needs them to be, or just themselves. So Poppi, I give you the highest possible compliment on your work and your writing. Brightness and blessings upon you always. R
We all die alone.

But you made sure he didn't die lonely.
How sad a tale. I imagine "Kenny" will never forgive himself for his weakness either.
You continue to amaze me with your love, your strength.
I have never said this to anyone but I think you must be an angel...this got to me.
Rated... (Other words escape me...)
It is a sad story, Poppi, but it is a story of someone being able to love, to see past the obvious. You rock, my dear.
Poppi: that is beautiful, and beautifully written. You are a special person. Peace and love. R-
I heart you, too...nurse flower girl...lover of the abandoned...who sees what others cannot...and acts on our behalf. This was just too much. I cannot bless you enough. So...thank you, for everything, including sharing this...
God bless you, Poppi Iceland. R
Wow Poppi! This is a beautiful and sad story! He was blessed to have an angel as a nurse.
Poppi, You have to be the best nurse on the planet. What a tender story.
Such a beautiful, haunting story, and this says so much about who you are. I thank you for this, Poppi. msp, for you and Jordan, and for Kenny
Thank you for being there for him.
And who else is changing the world with an example like this? I'm dumbfounded by your kindness and pledge to do the same if I'm ever needed in such a way.

ADD? ADHD? Just obstacles.

My computer is Rufus the Ruffian, because he won't let me keep from pounding him.

Wonderful--I cry at this young man's fate and smile at your kind heart.

May your day and life be peaceful.

Thank you Poppi, for being a generous and giving human being. (and for being a great writer).
This story is so life affirming and inspiring. And well written too. Thank you so much for sharing this.
you gave him his deserved dignity. i hope we all get that. lovely spare writing, poppi.
Selfless ... inspiring.

Kindness is one of the greatest gifts we can offer anyone. I am so glad that you were there for Jordan when he needed you. No one should die alone, and the world needs more selfless people like you. And damn, you made me cry too. rated with pleasure
I will never understand suffering at the end of life, such pain and loss as last experiences. You were his light. I commend you for shining so brightly.
Great story...Reminding me of the film Philadelphia...
truly a beautiful story of love.
Excellent piece, just excellent.
What a heart-wrenching story. How terrible Jordan's partner was to leave him at the very time he needed a partner the most, but how beautiful it is that you stayed by his side, physically and morally, throughout his ordeal. Nursing is truly your calling and your gift. Rated.
The reality of death overwhelms its participants and is a bane unto our kind. We know when death approaches now from a long way away. In olden times we wouldn't know fate's outcome until that precise moment when all hope was lost, now it has become a foregone conclusion.

But fear not, becausde death is illusory, just like wealth. It can only be measured against its opposite, life in the case of death and poverty in the case of wealth. He who suffers most gains the most, and everyone suffers under the yoke of mortality, doomed to die from conception and birth while carrying the guilt and sorrow of fear-induced greed.

Intelligent design is everywhere, and it makes us all eternally agnostic, and eternal believers, in both ballance and justice. Each atom has its own unique point of view... A very important middle approaches, in the lands that time forgot...
Professionalism...but better than that: Compassion of the first order.

Peace to you.
Bravo. No one should be deprived of pizza. For me, it boils down to recognition. You saw him, and he knew that you saw him, and that you cared. Bravo!
So well presented Poppi, having just lost a brother who was mentally challenged and appeared odd to most of the world, a hug for someone considered "untouchable" by society is an experience that fills your soul with unconditional love which is rare....appreciate your sharing of this experience...Greensprite
Thanks for this beautiful story of human kindness. It transpires serenity.
I read this and though about the many AIDS stories. Then I read some of the comments and now my morning coffee is drenched with tears. Poppi, you hugged all of us. So, this one's for you.

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Awesome prose, Poppi. Thanks.
Wow this was heart breaking. And beautiful. I am so sorry. But nurses like you are golden. We all pray to have someone like you near us when our life is ending. My father had beautiful nursing care at the end of his life as well. My heart and appreciation go out to you and all the wonderful, sacrificing nurses in this world. If only people knew how important love and compassion were, they would put that ahead of everything else.
I am so moved by your spirit of love and compassion.....so moved. God bless you.

This post wants me to give you a hug. Thank you for hugging him, for looking into the light with him, and helping him transition. Death is so scary for so many. He may have wanted Kenny, but the universe knew he needed you.
No, no one should be alone when they die. This story touched me so deeply. Thank goodness for your kindness.
Oh Poppi, I know this story. For the last years of my working life starting in the early eighties, I worked with people with HIV/Aids and this sad tale is all too familiar and can't be told often enough. Thank you. r
I had the experience of a hug like that when my sister passed on. It was early morning in the hospice. I'd spent the night with her. My dad and sister came, but we were not a hugging family. I must have appeared somewhat distraught, because the nurse gave me a hug. it was very needed.
A touching memory, Poppi.
boundaries my ass, you've made me cry, you are a good soul Poppi
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Poppi, so wonderful. What an angel you were, to be there so he did not die alone.
Poppi -- I wish you were the nurse for everyone in need. What an incredible gift you have of caring.
Oh Poppi, you are such a wonderful person and a superb writer. This just grabbed me and squeezed the breath out of me. Thank you for being there.
Thanks for the lovely comments. There is nothing magical or angelic here. It's just being kind and recognizing the humanity in some one. Some people call it agape, being a humanist,empathetic or humanitarian. It's just me, being me, breaking and bending the rules a little to make someone less sad or scared. Somewhere in the land of beyond the pale, Jordan is having pizza, reading your comments and smiling.
love and peace :) Poppi
You are a beautiful person and a wonderful nurse. Too many nurses have become automatons and just punch a clock, push some buttons, and go home. We need more of you!
Thank God You have boundary issues according to the "others" at your work........love is love and you are right ,no one should die alone..This piece made my heart happy.
You're an angel, Poppi. Mother Teresa had nothing on you. And...you are one helluva fine writer, to boot.
~R and love. I have few words for this, because you crafted your sentiments so well. If only more acutely ill pediatric patients were blessed with nurses like yourself. Care-especially where there is no medical cure. Boundaries be darned... -Peace.
Thank you so much for posting this. You are truly one of the special nurses in this world who have great big hearts and inner strength for all. I too am a nurse and have worked at the Montreal Children's Hopsital among others. I am not proud to say I found myself unable to overcome my own anguish in order to continue doing good work there. I would often come home and cry and squeeze my son (much to his Autistic chagrin) while being unable to explain why I was behaving that way. I ran at the first case of physical abuse I encountered. I ran home and cried for 5 hours. I resigned soon afterwards. You are a brave and much-needed light in this world. A million kudos to you. I have only the courage to hold the hands of those who have had a long life as they die and pass onto the next realm. I work in a nursing home and as such am able to feel the impact of my patient's deaths less severely. I could not handle seeing children in pain, dying slowly, nor being abused. You are a beautiful person. Bless you and all like you. Thank you for being there for those children who need you most.......
Heartbreaking. Thank you for being there.