My former student, Sony Georges, has been a nurse in Massachusetts for a decade. He’s become a close friend. (I’m calling him “Sony” here, since, like many nurses, he has expressed fears about retaliation from hospital higher ups if he speaks out publicly in support of ballot Question 1.)
Sony is among the most caring and reflective people I know, the kind of person who looks in your eyes, and you sense depth of human sympathy. Somehow you know this brother has seen some suffering in his life. And it’s true. Born into a small poor country abroad, Sony became an orphan at a young age, before being adopted by a local family. He emigrated to the US at age 13 on his own, settling in Boston to go to school. He was an ‘old soul’ long before I met him in a college classroom, almost a decade ago.
Sony’s desire to become a nurse goes way back to when he was only five or six, when he was forced to watch his own mother die an excruciating death from terminal cancer–without the buffer of modern pain medication. In our first-year writing course, Sony filled pages with the vivid and horrific story of listening at the door, paralyzed by his mother’s pain-blind cries. Peering through the door-crack, he watched helplessly as the sickness tore her apart, even as he was deeply moved by the sight of his grandmother, holding her adult daughter tight, telling her to “Clench your teeth” as she left this world on waves of pain.
Being so young, Sony was mostly kept from…