by Stephen Kiernan
The Hummingbird is the first novel I’ve read by this author and it won’t be my last. It was a story within a story involving a seasoned hospice nurse, Deb, and her struggles coping with her husband, Michael, who after returning from his third deployment to Iraq is a changed man. He is tormented by rage and experiences endless nightmares. It takes all of Deb’s patience, compassion and determination to try to restore their marriage to the loving one they once had.
The other story is that of her current hospice patient, Barclay Reed, a retired history professor who is an expert in the Pacific Theater of World War II. Barclay is a cantankerous patient at best. In fact, he’d already dismissed two other caregivers. Fortunately for him, he had met his match since Deb was known for “sticking, for staying and never giving up.”
It’s at this point Barclay asks Deb to read to him from his final book named the Sword. I think I’ve mentioned before that although this is a work of fiction many times novels are also educational. The Sword is an account of a Japanese pilot’s mission to fly off a submarine and into Oregon to create chaos in 1942. “The plan was to set the forests of the Pacific Northwest on fire.” At the time, the Department of War, kept this a secret. Some of you may remember the expression, “Loose Lips Sink Ships.”
The stories continue as Deb earns Barclay’s respect and she tries her best to help her husband let go of his anger and forgive himself for his memories of war. Ironically, it’s Barclay who helps her help Michael with his insight that “It is possible for a warrior to become a man of peace.”
I hope you enjoy this well-told story of love and a wedding vow not taken lightly. As well as the amazing dedication of a hospice nurse who does such difficult work everyday with empathy and compassion.