Last Rites

Candice Carnes

In 2002, I was living in Albuquerque and working as a nursing assistant. My staffing agency had assigned me to a medical surgical floor at a hospital in Santa Fe, a fifty-minute drive away.

One day, as I was enjoying the high-desert beauty en route to the hospital, a code was called.

The patient’s name was Sam, as I recall. It could have been anything, but Sam is the name that echoes in my memories of that day.

His heart stopped.

I hadn’t arrived at the hospital yet, but I had been involved in enough codes to know what had been done.

Despite his advanced age, Sam had full-code status with no restrictions, meaning that he or his family had wanted everything possible done to save his life.