MIDWEST CITY, Okla. – As a nurse in the emergency room, you handle a patient’s pain while hiding your own.
“We have to lean on each other outside of the patient rooms and outside of this environment,” said Tesha Loven, who works at Alliance Health in Midwest City. “We kind of break down every now and then, too.”
Just ask Melanie-Lee Silvay.
She had a hard time smiling a few days ago, as she thought about her two boys, who before long will be shipping out to serve in the military.
She found comfort in a coworker, Tammy Smith, whose own son, Brandon Smith, had been stationed in Germany for nearly two years.
“Honestly, I wanted to cry,” Silvay said, remembering their conversation. “Because, I’m thinking, ‘Oh my, my kids are going to be gone, and here you’re sitting, trying to get me to be okay.’”
Silvay said that’s the kind of coworker Tammy is, always caring and compassionate, always putting the needs of others ahead of her own.
Brandon, she said, would not be home for Thanksgiving this year.
“She was talking about Skyping for Thanksgiving and all that,” Silvay said. “She said she was getting used to it, but she’s very strong.”
Her husband, Shawn Smith, can attest to that strength.
He’s seen it over the last 23 months, as their family of four was drawn apart with months to go until he returned home.
The two men of the family are especially close, Shawn said.
The two even share a birthday: Dec. 30.
Tears come to Shawn’s eyes as he thinks of how long it’s been since they’ve been together.
But, finally, Friday night, he has a reason to smile.
Brandon will be visiting home for 17 days, and the two developed a plan to first surprise his younger sister.
Friday night, they surprised Tammy at work.
Disguised as a training exercise, Brandon was taken from an ambulance on a gurney and wheeled inside the Alliance Health emergency room.
Tammy’s coworkers were in on it.
They stationed her by a computer to check her son in.
She asked for the “victim’s” birthday and his full legal name.
And, as she pondered what a coincidence it was that the victim shared Brandon’s name and birthday, her son snuck up behind her for a hug that would melt your heart.
Between tears, Tammy clutched her son close and then embraced her coworkers, before posing for a few photos, eating some cake and leaving work early to celebrate a family together again for Thanksgiving.