I have had a front row seat to a story of friendship and faith that is perfect for the holiday season.

Iíve mentioned in previous columns that the people who work for the Press Gazette have a friend in a Pensacola hospital. She once worked for us and we all know what a sweet and gentle person she truly is.

She has been hospitalized for three months. A lot has happened during her stay there. Two or three times, we were told to prepare for her demise. Her daughter flew here twice from up north. And just two weeks ago, a doctor said she would never be off dialysis, never be off the respirator, and never leave the hospital. He told us her body was dying and we should not expect anything else.

This was crushing news and brought about some very passionate discussions here at work about the difference between preparing a family for the worse and giving up on someone.  

In the intensive care unit, it appeared nurses had been told the same thing because their lack of attention to our dying friend was observed and reported to the social worker at the hospital. While our friend was lying in her hospital bed alone and afraid, the nurses were braiding each otherís hair and talking about an upcoming wedding.  The reason this is significant is because when our employee visiting that day paused to ask how our friend was doing, a nurse replied something to the effect, ďIím not sure. I havenít had much time with her today.Ē

I realize there are two sides to every story. The reason I mention this today as an observer, is so you will understand everyone was giving up on her chances for recovery.

With that said, as Paul Harvey used to say, here is the rest of the story.

Our friend was moved from ICU to a lower level of care last week. No timeframe for her death was given. No one said sheís not going to make it until the end of the year or be here for Christmas. She was moved and the doctor stuck by his prognosis.

Well, three days ago, she was removed from dialysis and her kidneys are now functioning. They took her off the respirator and she is breathing on her own. And she walked for the first time since sheís been hospitalized. Everyone here is amazed and hopeful.

My reason for giving all of this background information about her health and challenges is that we have an angel working here at the Press Gazette. Iíve been in a front row seat to observe her dedication and commitment to our ill friend.

Our angel will remained unnamed here so as not to embarrass her. But Iíve never seen such dedication to a friend.

Our angel has gone to the hospital nearly every single day since our friend was hospitalized. She argues with people about life support issues. She massages the feet of our friend, lying in bed, helpless with tubes coming from well, just everywhere.

She keeps a positive attitude in front of the patient, always smiling and cheerful. When our friend canít speak, she pulls out the pad and paper. When our friend can speak, she sits and listens.

She has been the contact person and was put on the list for decision-making in life and death situations. Not only does she do all of this, she found a place for the brother of the patient to live, as he has his own mental and physical challenges. And she goes to visit him nearly every day. And she works full-time.

When I tell this story, people ask me if she is related to our ill friend and I tell them no, she is a friend Ė the very best friend to have.

I know I want her on my side.

Published: Dec. 5, 2013