Traditions can be mundane. A basic habit as small as drinking coffee out of the same mug each morning. But traditions, like the one Darren and his wife shared each wedding anniversary, can also be sacred.
Deanna Martinez, a registered nurse at Adventist Health White Memorial, remembers the day Darren came into the ER.
“I met him on his first day of admission,” said Deanna. “I participated in his intake process, and the following day, I met his wife.”
Over Darren’s elongated stay — more than two months — Deanna got to know Darren. It was through tending to him at his bedside that she also had the opportunity to get to know his wife, Caroline, who visited him daily. They were a happy, loving couple, and Deanna found joy in getting to know them as they navigated the hardship of Darren’s failing health. She saw the tenderness in which they held each other’s hands and the care they showed for each other with just their eyes.
“They were loyal and had such a closeness. He would speak highly of her, and she would reminisce about their time together,” said Deanna.
One day, while reminiscing, Caroline mentioned that their wedding anniversary was approaching and that every year, Darren would buy her a bouquet of flowers on their wedding anniversary. Roses, she said. While this would usually be something to smile about, there was sadness in Caroline’s eyes. This year, Darren’s health wouldn’t allow him to follow through with their yearly tradition.
The next day, Deanna went into the hospital gift shop and roamed the shelves as Darren would have done to find something special for Caroline. Deanna purchased a bouquet of roses and upon reaching their room, surprised Caroline.
“I thought this could bring some small comfort to his wife during a difficult time,” said Deanna. “As soon as she saw me holding the bouquet, she broke down into tears. It made me quite emotional to see her reaction.”
Standing in Darren’s room, Deanna understood the importance of their tradition. It was about more than just flowers. It was a sacred tradition and a special moment they could share one last time.
*Patient names have been changed.