Partner went into hospital. Went with him. Men's ward. Stayed there. In the night I heard a man quietly praying in Maori. A nurse had a torch in his face observing him. He was an old man. His eyes were clenched shut and he was rocking. She went. He kept praying.
I'd not long lost my own father and what was going on reminded me so much of him. I heard what I figured was real desperation in his voice.
I've got to go.
No, don't. Leave it alone.
Sorry, you're okay. He's not.
Got to him, spoke a few words, smoothed his brow and put a hand on his shoulder, gently patting and rubbing as you might comfort a child who is not your own.
Night is more horrible when you're sick, more frightening. He just needed to (share the fear?) know someone was there.
Nurse came (young thing), said she was going to call his family and would I come to the patient lounge to talk.
You've got to go, she said. You can't approach people and you can't touch them. Its not allowed. Breach of something.
Wanted to ask her when she last got laid. I was just as annoyed as she was. I didn't like being spoken down to so.
Well, no, I ain't going. I know what he was saying, I know what he was asking. My cultural duty and right.
This whole thing took less than ten minutes.
I went back through the darkness to my partner. I'm getting kicked out. Nurse followed. Partner grabbed my hand and told her - She's not going.
Next day as I was passing a doorway - heard 'There's that angel from last night' Someone came rushing out and called me back. The man had been shifted to a private room. The family thanked me for being there for their husband/dad/grandad.
I broke the rules, but felt I had to. And glad I did.
Lessons from this story
Most people know when it is okay to touch someone else.
Being able to tell someone you're scared is helpful.
Being able to soothe someone is a humbling experience.
If you feel comfortable about helping someone - do so.
Figure out if its worth it to break rules you may find exist later. (Hidden consequences).
Image "I wanna hold your hand" by Josep Ma. Rosell used under CC BY 2.0
Do what you think is right.