t was 1975, and I was a very young new nurse. I was working on a surgical floor of a major metropolitan hospital in New York City that had many rules. One of these rules was that children younger than 16 years were not allowed to visit patients.
I had a 38-year-old patient, Edna, who was dying of liver cancer. She desperately wanted to see her 12-year-old daughter, Anna. Every day at 3:00 pm Edna would sit by her window on the 12th floor and wave to Anna outside, but eventually she could not even make it to the window.
One afternoon before my shift was over, I had asked Edna if there was anything I could do for her before I left. She replied with tears in her eyes, “Can you please bring my daughter to me.” I squeezed her hand and told her yes. I remembered that my Dad had told me sometimes rules should be broken – a saying I had not understood until then.
I somehow managed to pass the security guard at the front desk and brought Anna into Edna’s room undetected. Anna walked in and hugged her mom, and her mom, although extremely weak, hugged her back. I could hear them whispering as I stood guard at the door. After about 15 minutes, Anna came to the door and told me that she would leave now. I escorted her down the elevator unnoticed, and she thanked me for letting her say goodbye to her mom.
Edna died that night. The evening nurse told me that she was hallucinating and told everyone that her daughter came to see her, and she is now at peace.
I explained to the evening nurse what had transpired that day, and she began to cry. She said she wished she had broken the rule for many patients, but never had. This nurse then became the lead advocate for changing this archaic rule. Thank you Edna for helping us see the light.