I just finished my last shift as a nurse on the Africa Mercy. I found myself counting the minutes left, wanting to linger on each one, telling myself that 8 hours was going by way too fast.
I'm learning how to savor moments. As soon as I realize it, the moment is already a memory. I stop in the middle of it and tell myself "Remember this!"
I had so many of these moments tonight, mostly starring Djamou, my little 2 year old patient. I've been his nurse for many weeks now and he steals all the hearts. I will hold you and play with you as long as you let me.
Normally pretty temperamental and whiny, he was in a very happy mood today. I walked up and down the long hospital corridor holding him and singing Justin Beiber songs to Blandine. She giggles and echoes back the lines. I will never forget the way she calls me "sister." Or her laugh. Or hopefully anything.
Djamou continues to cuddle and play with me, following me to other patient's beds when they needed something and lifting up his arms to be held. He wraps his arms around my neck with a squeal. It sounds silly, but when a child wants you, like REALLY wants you...hard to beat that feeling.
I look at my watch and there's only 25 minutes left of the shift. I'm holding Djamou on my lap, half ignoring his mama's look to come to bed. Just 10 more minutes! Blandine and 2 other older ladies' beds are facing me. I hear them say "Cait" and "yovo" (white person in Fon) and "Americano."
I look down at Djamou and he's looking at me, unblinkingly. He says, "Yovo? I love you" and I already feel my eyes welling up and soon tears are dropping off my nose. He never broke eye contact with me. I stared down at him through blurry vision and knew I could NOT forget this moment, especially. My last moment on Africa Mercy was being loved by a toddler that I adored. I couldn't ask for anything else at all.