We Say Goodbye, One More Time

When they wheeled him in, the doctors said it was already too late. They put him on an iron lung, and the only thing left to do was let his mother decide on his organs.

He was young, good-looking, tall and strapping, face beat up from meth. His mother had given him countless chances and a free bed, but he had relapsed every time, back to the muse and to back alley corners and then crawling home again. His mom finally kicked him out. Shortly after, he found one of those hideouts to do his meth in peace. He fell down a flight of stairs. Traumatic brain injury. A brawl, possibly. Someone had called an ambulance and left him there.

The only thing the hospital could do was stuff him full of tubes to keep him breathing. There was no brain activity. His head was held by a neck brace the size of an oven and his bed was a mess of angry plastic tentacles, sprouting and twisting in veiny stubborn circles. I could still tell that underneath all the life support, he was a handsome kid.

In the waiting room, his mom kept blaming herself.

Continue reading “We Say Goodbye, One More Time”

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Love Covers.


Part of my hospital chaplaincy duties is to write a reflection on how it’s going. Identities may be altered for privacy. All the writings are here.

I’ve seen love. I mean, pure love. The kind that builds you, that bursts wide open and free, the kind they tell you about, but you were afraid to believe.

A nine-year-old boy comes into the trauma bay with deep, jagged lacerations all over his back. Car accident, roll-over; dad and children nearly ejected, going fifty. His shirt is shredded. His back is really torn up, almost ribbons in several places, blood filling his shorts. He’s fidgeting, squirming, but not from his wounds. He’s trying to sit up, eyes darting, looking for someone. He’s trying to tell something to the paramedics, to the nurses and doctors, to me.

Medicine, he says in a choked whisper, medicine for my sister. She has a new kidney. Medicine.

A second later, his four year old sister is wheeled in—they had been in the same car accident. She’s in shock. Her brother keeps saying, Medicine, for my sister. She needs her kidney medicine.

A nurse replies, “On it. I’m on it, little man.”

I go to the nine year old, pull up a seat, and tell him, “You’re a good brother.”

“Thanks,” he says, finally resting his head. The nurses move around us, not missing a beat, and there’s just me and the kid, eyes locked, his eyes on fire.

“What happened?” I ask him.

Continue reading “Love Covers.”