Dead

I’m not sure why I scrawl quotation marks around the word “dead” when it should be bolded or underlined.

I jot my notes out of habit, as if this were any other call from a referring physician. I make my usual box in front of her name to check off when she arrives at the hospital and has been assigned to a team.
But, of course, she won’t arrive and be assigned to a team because she is dead.

I deliver this news in various ways. In person to the intern who discharged her, who promptly bursts into tears. Over the phone to my practice partners who took care of her, pulling them away from their own babies and dinners. Via text to others who are stakeholders but not likely to have as emotional a response.
I am a strangely detached messenger, tempted to pass judgment on a family I never met, completely confident that the care was more than thorough, aching for the resident physicians and partners who will second guess themselves for years to come.
By all descriptions, yesterday she was a smiling, active baby, wearing the same pajamas that my partner’s daughter wears.
Today she is “dead.”
Lisa Sieczkowski
Omaha, Nebraska

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