“Tomato and cheese omelet and large coffee to go, please,” I tell the cashier in the coffee shop. I sidestep other patrons and take my place in the wait queue. It’s 2AM and the hospital’s only food station for us night owls is soon to close. Bleary eyed, I head back upstairs to sit at a nurse’s station and hurriedly ingest this breakfast gut bomb and rocket fuel needed to get me — a rookie RN navigating critical care — through the rest of the shift.

Dawn peeks through the clouds as I skirt around a bedside for one last…


My mother could nurture enormous, lush flora from seemingly dead sticks. Foliage was putty in her gifted hands, shaping themselves into respectable specimens with seemingly little more than water. She would frequently speak kindly to them, a practice which made my siblings and me roll our eyes with a palpable rumble. Perhaps those few loving sentiments were indeed her secret sauce for cultivation prowess.

I would repeatedly try my hand over the years coaxing both indoor and outdoor plants to prosper and bloom with little success. While I never heard Mom swear at hers, a few expletives on more than…


The hallmark of the profession is unrelenting advocacy while routinely working in less than desirable situations. From hysterical to heart-wrenching, life tosses some definite surprises into the pot. And not just for the patients. Temperaments of both patients under duress and providers season this healthcare soup, the flavor of which may be tweaked by staffing shortages, policy changes, and bed capacities. Choosing compassion and strength is often the best way to handle the heat in the kitchen of these realities.

Some days are grand and others not so much. I have laughed, cried, and prayed with patients. I have been…


“Oh Baby, pleeeeze!” Ana purrs in her luxurious Latino brogue as she pauses the wine glass at her lips. “You’re livin’ life! It’s OK!” she offers against my anxious apologies of sparse communication. A rendezvous in the Windy City has brought us together to catch up and clink glasses in a toast to enduring friendship, no matter the passage of time.

Ana was my roommate and confidante in nurse anesthesia school. She was the class matriarch; a warm, wise woman during a time of chilling stress. We all learned from Ana’s empathy, grace, and spunk.

Being older and already having…


“It’s never over till it’s over,” our realtor cautioned as we excitedly embarked on our home purchase. They say you know when you are “home,” and something I cannot explain led me room to room, as if by the hand, at the open house. I connected with this place on a level I could not articulate, falling madly in love.

I would like to say the entire sale went swimmingly, but it did not. A host of temperaments came along for the ride as we navigated an inspection and too many weeks of price haggling. On the market for at…


Her ample figure bustles about the room, her piercing eyes watch as pencils in stubby fingers scribble hieroglyphs onto blank pages. An imposing presence from both habitus and experience leaves little doubt about the consequences of cheating. In the stark, fluorescent lighting of this classroom, many have barely endured the passage into sixth grade. I however, have found a kindred spirit.

Marjorie Brunner had seemingly taught her full tenure before I ever entered her classroom as a shy fifth grader. At least one of my brothers had experienced and spoken openly of her well-known practice of strict discipline (including paddling)…


I recently finished my first half-marathon, a 13.1-mile trial of discipline and perseverance. Unlike my past rollercoaster rides of inactivity followed by bursts of overachieving, this was a respectable, incremental effort of kinder steps followed by an event completed without needing four day’s rest. I will, however, admit to experiencing a migraine requiring meds and a nap later the same afternoon. And, yes, according to the data from my fitness tracker, I still overachieved, but far less than the usual gross negligence of my physical wellbeing. I still have work to do. Fitness is a process and the discipline required…


Our eyes adjust to the dim light. Faint rays of late afternoon sun illuminate suspended dust particles in the cavernous warehouse. The musty scent of bygone eras greets us and tickles our nasal passages. A few sneezes later, our expedition begins: Dad and I are in search of an old stained-glass window — my college graduation gift.

The decision for something vintage to commemorate this milestone came as no surprise to my parents. My interest in ancestral artifacts had already blossomed into a fondness for architectural salvage. And now, I was determined to rescue even more beauty from the past.


Early morning light peeks into this room where I sit wrapped in the hand crocheted embrace of female kin. The cup of coffee in my hands boasts the fragrance of toasted chestnuts; the splash of cream providing a silken palate. I savor the treasures and quietude before me.

Considered “too fancy” by some, this perennial space is where I prefer to start and end my day. An abundance of ancestral artifacts and trappings of ladyhood render the atmosphere calming and restorative. Most importantly, I hear the whispers of women in my past. …


Lifeless flesh undulates to the rhythm of external chest compressions. A crowd of providers streams in from a variety of departments as invasive lines are placed, medication timing recited, and respiration commandeered by a surrogate. Several minutes of continued effort offer little reward. A last-ditch invasive emergency procedure proves ineffective in reversing what we now realize is the unavoidable outcome. One tired heart has adamantly refused to oblige everyone’s best intentions. The lengthy code ends due to medical futility.

The group thins and nursing staff transitions to post-mortem care: bereaved families are consoled, a funeral home is notified for a…

Carol A. Craig

Seeker, wine lover, wife, mom, critical care healthcare provider and fledgling athlete. May my writings help you smile, laugh out loud, inspire and reflect.

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