A Social License III: Nursing Synchronicity

“It all depends on how we look at things, and not on how they are themselves”

Carl Jung

I love the moments of synchronicity Jung calls “significant coincidence.” Like when I need a topic for my nursing blog, and find it in a non-nursing setting, like last Friday, while shopping for a pair of pants for work in a department store.

She was unlocking the dressing room door for me, when the sales clerk, a young woman maybe twenty years old, asked if she could find other articles of clothing for me to try on. I told her I was shopping for work pants. She retrieved several pairs for me to try, then asked what kind of work I do. I told her I am a nurse.

“What kind of nursing?” she asked.

“Oncology,” I answered.

“Do you give chemotherapy?”

“Yes, I do.”

Nursing is a social license, meaning the public perceives us on duty even when we are not. Nursing strikes a chord in people concerned about their loved ones.

“My mom was a nurse,” she said.

For a moment, I don’t know what to say. Does she mean her mother changed careers, or does she mean she’s dead? It’s one thing to ask about a stranger’s possibly dead mother in a hospital, altogether something else to begin such a conversation in the public setting of a busy department store.

She throws me a bone: “My mother had cancer, so she isn’t working, but she’s in complete remission. She’s done with chemotherapy. It was hard, because she doesn’t live in this city, and I was here, going to college. She didn’t want me to miss college because of her cancer. Her nurse friends were really nice, not fake nice, really nice. They did a lot for her.”

I told her I am also a cancer survivor, and that you can’t have better friends than other nurses when you are ill. I told her I’m sure her mother wouldn’t want her to shipwreck her own life because of her cancer. I told her it was good she continued her college education.

Was it merely coincidental this young woman’s mother is a nurse, and a cancer survivor like me? Or did the encounter hold a deeper meaning? I don’t know, but I left the department store with the warm feeling I get when I feel a connection to another human being.

Maybe synchronicity is never significantly coincidental. Maybe synchronicity is the simple human need to reach out to each other in a meaningful way, and especially to a nurse.


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