He Mouthed Dinner Plate

Mar 31, 2020

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Dear World,

I wish I could hug her and tell her how much that meant to him.

We call them star patients. It’s probably like your kids, you gotta love ‘em all the same or you have a love for ‘em all.

But, there’s patients who just have something special.

There was this one patient, he was a true star. He wasn’t just a star in our unit, he’d been a star in New Orleans for a long time.

New Orleans, y’all know, is famous for its restaurants. But restaurants — the great ones — don’t become great just because of the food.

He was the maitre D’ at one of New Orleans finest restaurants — one where the waiters and staff are pros. True professionals.

I wasn't his nurse, but I was a charge nurse, and his nurse was busy with other patients on this particular day. So before I left, I sat at his bedside to read a bunch of cards which were sent to him by friends and family.

I’m reading him all these cards, and so many are from people who met him at the restaurant. Think about that y’all? He had folks who just came to eat dinner at a restaurant sending him cards. And they weren’t just get-well cards, they were from folks who really knew him and loved him.

He couldn't really talk, but he would laugh or roll his eyes at the cards I read to him, and it was beautiful. Around two hours later as I was about to head home, I went back to say goodbye to him for the night. I heard another nurse scream, “Hurry up and get in there!”

He had spontaneous pneumothorax, meaning his lung collapsed, and he passed. We tried to save him, but we couldn't.

I kept shaking my head.

“No. No, he was just fine,”

“I was just in there. I just told him goodbye.”

My head spun. Y’all, I thought he was gonna get out. I thought he was gonna be one we could wheel out.

I had never eaten at his restaurant. But now, I’m gonna go eat there, I know it.

Because he was one of our first COVID-19 patients, we were with him throughout this whole mess. He’d been with us 50 days. So, to see him die? My head spun.

I’m grateful I got to spend some of his final hours with him. I read those cards to him, every one of ‘em. We had a great time. From a science perspective, I get it. It was a collapsed lung. But from a spiritual perspective? Maybe hearing all that love from those people? Card after card? Maybe he was ready.

All the cards were super funny and thoughtful and personal, but there were several specifically from a best friend he called Dinner Plate. She would sign off on all of her cards, “From, your Dinner Plate.”

One of the cards was hilarious y’all. She cracked jokes, she used profanities, it was something I definitely wouldn’t read out loud to my kids! I looked over to him, he couldn’t talk, but he mouthed, “Oh, Dinner Plate.”

I don't know who she is, but I wish I could tell her how much he smiled when she sent her cards and put, “from, your Dinner Plate.” I wish things were different. I wish I could hug her and tell her how much that meant to him.

He Mouthed “Oh, Dinner Plate”
Jamie Taylor