On that warm June morning she looked the same as I remembered her. No other has her spirit. Her soul.
The last time we’d seen each other she helped me move from one rental house to another after my divorce. Jocelyn and her family lived next door to us. We built our dream home adjacent to their property and they fast accepted us into the fold. I babysat her two girls occasionally while she earned her Masters degree in Nursing. She, Bob, Andie, Tracy and Tucker ( huge, happy golden retriever) were good old-fashioned good neighbors.
When at thirteen years old, Geoff became and remained ill, Jocelyn was immediately by his side. Always kind, gentle, compassionate with a keen professional eye and listening ear, and her critical thinking mind. She was solidly there for Geoff and me. I never so much as had to ask. No other had gone to such tremendous efforts to right the blatant wrongs being put upon our boy.
I will tell you now, as will anyone who knows her, Jocelyn is someone you always want on your side.
Once the medical misjudgments became more frequent and we realized Geoff’s treatment or lack thereof weren’t working, Jocelyn sprang into action. She asked for verbatim conversations between myself and specific doctors and their orders. She was outraged over and again as she learned of questionable practices heaped upon
Geoff and eventually Brian and I. A source of expert information, if she didn’t have an immediate answer she knew how to swiftly find it.
Jocelyn set up home care for his IVs which sadly, only lasted a short while. She cried with Geoff, holding him close. She cried with me more than once.
The illness went on for a year or more before leading us to seek treatment for Geoff at Boston Children’s Hospital where he was held hostage against his own and our will.
Jocelyn remained in close contact, going so far as to interview physicians, psychologists, and nutritionists here in RI in attempts to have him transferred closer to home. Trying still to remove him from the clutches of one power hungry Peter Hunt, PhD.
She gave it the good fight. Hung in there with all the conviction and tenacity of the best good, caring, heartfelt nurse, neighbor, advocate, friend. But Boston Children’s Hospital is a well practiced powerhouse. Unbeknownst to us, they’d fought and won these battles of before. We four were no match for their well tested strategies. The remainder of that story is still in the telling.
I’ve spent countless hours over a couple of decades wishing I could somehow repay Joslin for everything she did for us, for me. Silently I questioned in what light she remembered us and our plight. Did she end up thinking we were all crazy like Peter Hunt suggested? So many times I felt alone, friendless.
Years later, through social media Jocelyn and I rediscovered each other. A simple FB friendship is all.
Then suddenly an ad appeared.
So, it was on an early summer morning nineteen years later, I met her on the sidewalk in front of her late mothers house. She showed me the lovely vacant loft apartment and proclaimed, “You’re perfect for this apartment, Nancy. I want you to take it. You can stay forever.”
I made a quick survey of the place. As we conversed, I sensed a level comfort known only to those who are approaching home. I said, “Joslin, I’ll take it.”
Outdoors again she had the courage to asked me, “How is Geoff?” I paused, looked off to the distance, “I honestly don’t know. But he’s alive, working with Brian and doing animation which he loves.” “We were all so badly traumatized Jocelyn. Geoff the worst, of course.”
Misty eyed, Jocelyn replied, “ I use your case as a model when I teach my young nursing students, Nancy. I tell them your story. I tell them how the entire medical community turned its back on you. Refused to listen to you about your own child. I tell my students that because it destroyed three lives. I don’t want it to ever happen again. To this day, I teach them how important it is to listen closely to family members of patients. I teach my students this because of you.”
I can’t tell you the times I’ve hopelessly thought, “Truly, what the hell good could ever come of this? It’s rotten to the core.”
And there my old friend stood, now with her own PhD. Telling me she teaches lessons at university based on our strange story. Perhaps one student or more will listen, learn and teach. Perhaps I should continue to tell my story as well.
Last week my phone rang as I sat reading one evening. It was Jocelyn. Could I do her a huge favor if I wasn’t busy right now? She was out of town on business. Her terminally ill, elderly aunt needed to be checked on. There was no one else nearby. Would I mind going over to see her?
I listened as Jocelyn filled me in on details necessary for the visit and more. I listened as nineteen years fell away. In my minds eye she lived next door again. The kids laughed and jumped on the trampoline in the yard while our retrievers ran free across the meadow. Jocelyn, for the first time, spoke of her own family. She spoke of survival under extreme adversity. Jocelyn spoke of her own fractured heart and the hearts of those she dearly loved over a lifetime.
Misty eyed, I rose from my chair. I went to visit with her lovely, still elegant Aunt Maude. It was a visit that I can’t imagine missing.
Once again my tremendous gratitude to Jocelyn.
I can never repay Jocelyn for the overwhelming support she selflessly gave and continues to give through her teaching.
But perhaps I can offer my humble ear.
l rise and I will listen.