You didn’t know this. But I spent days and nights next door to where you decided to end your life. Where the doctors gather, pondering over differentials… treatments…dissecting our every move to ensure that we are doing the right thing for you.
The right thing…
If I had known you, I would have fought for you. I know you weren’t my patient; I know we had never even met. I am just the person who found you. Who pronounced you. You were already cold, but still, I placed the stethoscope against your chest and listened.
I didn’t hear anything.
Did you hear me as
I wept for you?
you were suffering. I’m sorry you felt
as if you had
no way out.
I’m sorry I couldn’t do more.
This is a reflection over an event that happened during residency. An event I still think about at times. A lingering guilt.
A cardiac arrest. A resuscitation made. A life recovered. One patient tells me his experience.
This is his story.
Death. Amid the chaos enclosing, beseeched by an ambiance of ages to come, I hear the seraph’s dulcet calls. Immured by words divine and bittersweet, they sculpt the frigid air, and I am comforted. As flesh is pierced, poisons forced, I am held in tender embrace– its whispers an oasis to the fears that boil within my breast.
A skyward calling, its promised hope glistens the starlight above me. Memories, regret, longings and dreams– a cycle ripened to revolve anew cascades within my being. I then behold a fleeting sight– a son, wife, a father, my life– their love commanding,
with a strength untold I fight until with the sun
I am ushered
out of the grasp
of the ebbing eve.
A code called. She races as the seas part
for her crossing. Reposed before her– rhythm without pulse,
fluid without flow, substance without life– is you.
as lines in your thigh penetrate a pump paralyzed, as tube between ashen lips thrusts into stagnant air.
Poison pushed into a heart
quivering, she watches as your chest rises
with the force of each counterfeit breath.
The symphony begins.
Thump Shock delivered. Strike through the breast. Voltage down your limbs. Buoyant, jerking, Each retort a life feigned by lightening.
Crunch Bones crush. The carol of ribs, a surrender to the fury
of each compression, quickens with her pounding heart. Each chord
a dissonant harmony.
Glazed are your eyes as they pulsate with the cadence of their dance. She looks at you. Pleads for you to return. Prays to the god she plays. But your eyes plead for something more.
Rivulets of sorrow meandering
down tear-stained skin. “Keep her comfortable
until it’s time.” Simple words-
of eternal reminder within.
Guiding her through the threshold
into the chill, shudders
of realization emerge. You survey
the molting trees, their arid leaves embellishing her hair like fragments of woven rhinestones. As if they weep for her. As if even the ambiances of ages past are beseeching
her not to leave.
Soon arrives the Foehn, holding you within its warm embrace. Its breaths, whispering lines of truth, sculpt a bittersweet tune as they herald the evening’s arrival. You understand.
Cloaked by lyrics of singing ivy, her expression calms, your fears dissolve. Consoled by a draft possessive, you cradle her through the darkness and follow her toward the seraph’s call into the fold of midnight slumber.
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Founded in 2013 by Phoebe Chi, MD, PhoebeMD: Medicine + Poetry is a health information and literary arts website that aims to inspire, empower, and inform through a curated mix of essential health information, uplifting stories, and original poetry.