When your heart stopped, I was surrounded by people who did not know you. People who would not recognize your tired eyes, your weakened smile, the sheepish facial expressions that always accompanied your soft-spoken words. I had already started a new rotation at another hospital and was no longer a part of your care team, though I checked in periodically to see how you were doing.
When I received the news, there was no space to process you. I was standing in a crowd of white coats, and I was utterly alone. These were not the white coats who had spent morning after morning
Yet three months pass there across a table.
“The recipe, please!” I ask, eyes widen.
Behind the kitchen stove, a soft response
In foreign tones, “Lo siento, querida.”
“But do not pity me,” says the smile.
It was one of those mornings when the light penetrated a window with a fierceness that could drown even a hospital room in a 10-foot blanket of warmth. In room 5307, this brightness shed light on frailty. He felt warm, alone. Bony ends obviated their presence beneath crisp white linen.
I sat beside him, agonal respirations as last words. I shuffled between bedside and nursing station telemetry monitor, focused on the upper right screen. 70. 54. 45. 30. Lifeless waveforms. A pause and end in pulsation. His hand in mine with no flinch, no change, and yet so much had
I did not know to ask for a bereavement day to mourn a baby I hadn’t told anyone existed. Since they did not know, how could I ask for comfort, acknowledgement of loss, special handling in the weeks following the miscarriage? Everyone at work felt mean and cruel and quick.
My husband hadn’t been particularly happy about the baby; we were just digging out from the first two, so I was pretending to be put out. How do you grieve what you said you didn’t want when every ounce of you was thrilled, and no one knew of your rock-skipping, wing-flapping
He is an outgoing, highly respected architect who teaches at a prominent university. He’s left few precious stones unturned in his life and has been remarkably successful. He has a wonderful, loving marriage.
To offer further insight into Charlie’s character and personality, some time ago he received treatment for a malignancy. Before embarking on treatment, he scoured every conceivable therapy and developed a thorough knowledge of the pros and cons of each one. Every step
But she was kind and compassionate, and must have seen that I was a novice. She invited me to sit with her. As I came closer, she said to me: “Rabbi, I can’t believe that I have only three weeks to live.”
Morning rounds, on an August Tuesday. I’ve got two senior residents with me, along with two interns and a third-year student. We’re working our way through a list of patients scattered across several floors of the hospital. Most of them we had met just the day before. And a few, of course, were added overnight.
Beepers and cell phones shrill together, letting us know that one of our patients needs attention. We run up the stairs and find the code team already there. The student watches the interns performing chest compressions, wanting to participate yet glad not to be called
Throughout my adult life, I have tried to develop a strong voice—as a single mother, educator, writer and woman. This ability to speak for myself has made me feel impenetrable. Through self-expression, I have managed to survive the challenges of my life.
Then, in mid-July, I lost my voice—literally. I woke up with a severe case of laryngitis and now, six weeks later, still grapple with not being able to talk above a raspy whisper. My inability to communicate has made me feel vulnerable; I am dependent upon others to either speak for me or to have the patience to try