My patient died last night.
What does an 11 year old boy think about while he is dying? He lies on a plastic bed in the merciless fluorescent light, surrounded by the relentless noise of babies crying and machines beeping, with the occasional sound of mothers wailing when their children die. He watches tubes inserted, seizures, and CPR in the surrounding beds. Does he have hope? Is he afraid? Is he thinking of football games he’s played, or his school friends? Is he missing his dead mom?
My heart breaks that his last moments were spent in that chaos and filth. I pray that he just felt tired, and that he fell asleep, and felt no pain. I am so truly, profoundly sorry that I couldn’t save him. Please don’t write to me and tell me about how it’s not my fault. I know with my head that there was a complicated path that eventually lead to his death, and I know that I am only human, and that we are limited here.
And yet, my son is 11. He is solid, and boisterous, and robust. He has dreams, and a future. ALL boys should be pestering their little sisters, and building forts out of sticks. They should feel safe, and have faith that they will be protected and loved while they go about the work of growing up. Instead, this sweet soul lay in that war zone, holding his grandmother’s hand for several days before he died.
I wish I could have altered that path. I am so sad that we, as human beings, have allowed this to happen to our children. I pray for that little boy’s soul. I don’t have a great concept of heaven, and I don’t pretend to know what comes next. But for him, I hope he is with his parents. I hope that he died painlessly, and that he is now whole and strong. I am grateful for the time I spent taking care of him. I am honored to have witnessed his quiet courage. And I am so terribly sorry.