Heard a few words from someone I've been worried about - somewhat reassuring.
Have a half-completed journal entry on the main computer that I'm going to finish - I hope - about life and death in the ICU.
There is nothing like leaving the hospital one day filled with delight at the trends of the day, having shared good news and good prognoses with a patient's family - only to return the next morning and see a curtain drawn across the glass doors. You try to justify - maybe they're doing a late bath - but you know it's not true. And when I walked around the corner to hear the renal physician dictating, and heard the words "This is Dr. Kidneydoctor dictating a final discharge-slash-death summary on patient P.B..." I went numb, fingers to toes, my whole body.
Literally, O Best Beloved, I forced myself to turn around and walk back to the room in the ICU, tip aside the curtain, step in to see what had happened. Seeing makes it real. Touching makes it real. The monitor was still on, still displaying that flatline waver that means the heart is no longer even twitching deep inside the chest, just discharging the occasional tiny impulse as a cell leaks out to its threshhold. He was intubated and waxen-pale, eyes closed, bed in Trendelenberg position with the head low for maximum circulation, the detritus of a code strewn around the room: paper strips and caps from medication ampules and syringe covers tossed wherever there was room. Silent.
I came back later, once the hubbub was gone and they'd cleaned up for the family. We always clean up for the families - a made-for-TV code sequence generated for their viewing pleasure, rather than the nightmare chaos that is a real live code. (And I cringe to use that particular turn of phrase, but I haven't another right now) I slipped in after the sister was gone and before the wife came back, spent my five minutes with the body of a person fled, touched his cheek, discovered that I could not weep. It was too sudden, too strange. Not real. Not him.
I have told you about death before, O Best Beloved, and I will tell you again and again and again - and it is because of all the things that I have seen and done and said death is the strangest. It wraps tendrils of wonder and terror about me, and every experience sends me delving into my soul, to discover something new. Often, I find my flaws. I hear the things that people say to each other about their loved ones, in those first grieving moments, hear them coaxing and pleading long after life has fled, and I wonder. I always wonder.
Who will remember me, and how?