To Mr. J.*,

What a week! I must say that you made me feel very much alive with a cocktail of emotions: you made me laugh till I cried – but also severely tested my patience.

We first met a few months ago when I started as an intern with Street Nurses. Very quickly, you made me laugh a lot with your spontaneity, your honesty but also with your incredible chattiness. I’ve rarely met a person who talks as much. Which makes me smile but, I must admit, also drains my energy. To be honest, after our meetings I feel literally exhausted. But that is one of the reasons that makes me feel alive.

The weeks go by, we bond, and quickly we come to this special week.

On a Monday at our weekly team meeting, I hear that, today and during the next few days, we’ll meet three times for several important appointments.


My first reaction is “cool” because it’s always good to spend time with you. However, to my surprise, I also hear a little voice at the back of my mind saying: “oh dear, at the end of this week you’ll really need a rest”.

That same afternoon we meet. As usual, you feel a need to talk, to share your fears and worries but also your pleasures and agreeable moments. We listen, however long it takes, we reassure you, we say that we’ll take care of everything and are surprised to tell ourselves that you’re a “sweet bore”.

At the next meeting, you’re a bit less in form because you worry about a lot of things. We try to calm you and to see to your wishes although these are not always clear. But we are there for you and you tell us that that makes you feel good.

Wow, we see the Atomium and decide to go and have a closer look. You don’t really feel at ease and tell us that you suffer from vertigo. No problem, we won’t go inside! We’re only looking. What a beautiful thing it is, worth a souvenir picture!

The day ends without problems and we agree to see us the next day for our third and last appointment for that week.

The next day, I arrive at the office. I prepare to come and accompany you to an appointment, which, as you say so well, will allow you to move on and to take control of your life again.

But something is wrong. I see that in our absence there were two calls during the night. Strange. I call back.

And am told that you died during the night, Mr. J.

I’m overwhelmed by emotion, tears are flowing, this is so utterly unexpected.

And now that you are gone, I must tell you, even if it hurts, that during all the time we still would have had together, you would have made feel more intensely alive.

Have a good journey, Mr. J.

Eva, nurse.

Without you, there is no us.

(*) We make every effort to respect the privacy of our patients and our professional secrecy. Nevertheless, we want to bear witness to how they have to survive and how we work together to reintegrate them. Therefore, the names of places and people are deliberately omitted or changed and real-life situations are placed in another context.