i miss him and i feel terrible that he died like that and it seems so unfair and such a waste. but i feel other things too, guilt especially. guilt that we left him on his own, that we didn't try harder. i think we should have done more. and i feel angry, angry at him. angry that he was so weak and didn't try harder. angry that he was such a genius but didn't do enough with it. sometimes you just have to be brave.
They sound ludicrous enough now, these rumours, these optimisms, these assurances, to us who still wonder why, in spite of all our incompetence, we managed to "win" the War. But at the time they helped us to live. I cannot, indeed, imagine how long we should have succeeded in living without them.
there were also feelings of guilt and shame resulting from the involvement, voluntary or involuntary, in the nationalist and patriarchal war machine through the institution of nursing.
the figure of the nurse is strangely left out: neither a soldier not a civilian, she is not granted a place even in this medical 'no man's land'. Entrusted with the repair of minds and bodies the war has ravaged, she is thought to be immune to war trauma. If the nurse falls prey to trauma herself while sifting through her cargo of mutilated flesh, hers is a shame that dare not speak its name.
But there lay a deeper emotional and ethical crisis: the limits of empathy when the nurse was faced with the absoluteness of physical pain.
It is one's duty to look at the paper. It is one's duty to look at the man. It is one's duty to find out where he has come from and where he is going.
The pain of one creature cannot continue to have a meaning for another. It is almost impossible to nurse a man well whose pain you do not imagine. A deadlock!
Pity is exhaustible. What a terrible discovery! If one ceases for one instant to pity Mr. Wicks he becomes an awful bore.
To stand up straight on one's feet, strong, easy, without the surging of any physical sensation, by a bedside whose coverings are flung here and there by the quivering nerves beneath it. there is a sort of shame in such strength.