We occasionally have patients or their relatives complain that the nurses seem far too jovial.
That we are laughing and joking around during the shift, displaying total insensitivity to the suffering of those patients around us.
Let me say to them, that for us it is important to take every opportunity to swing our happiness around our heads, to let it unravel in wild arcs until it wipes against the walls. To sling our humour at low angles, so it skips off the floor and splatters up like over-ripe tomato seeds covering a colleague or two.
We try to disinfect the surgical steel with our pranks, and tie-dye the sterile, white hospital sheets with our laughter.
And we do this because we know a great grief waits close by. Always.
A grief that will pounce without forewarning. A grief that will crush us with the weight of every child we have seen die, and roar in our ears with the memory of every person we have wrapped in plastic, and claw us open with busy sadness and drag us off to uneasy, restless nights.