Thursday, May 10, 2012

It Startles The Soul


It was the only question the frail elderly woman asked as she cradled the head of her fallen son. Her wrinkled hand caressed his cheek and her osteoporotic spine bent over him longingly.  He was too far gone.  His respirations were shallow and labored.   His lips mouthed a few words and his eyes fluttered.

Maybe if there had been enough time, other questions would have surfaced.

How could this have been prevented?
Who is at fault?
Why didn't you know that he was at risk for this?

But that's the thing about sudden and immense grief.  It startles the soul.  It turns full sentences into piddly words.  Ideas become stuck and hang in the cobwebs of the stunned mind.  Within a moment the weight of the years becomes apparent in the stillness of the figure standing at the bedside.

I have learned and forgotten many things in this short career.  I hunched over textbooks unravelling the mysteries of disease.  I walked from room to room with learned professors demonstrating living and breathing pathology.  I passed thousands of hours in the exam room listening intently to words whispered in somber tones.

I have less answers than the day I began this journey.  I am painfully aware of my personal as well as my professions flaws.  We are limited by our anatomy and pathophysiology.  Maybe we are asking the wrong questions.  Maybe we should have spent a few semesters in seminary.

Why? Why? Why? Why? Why?

I choke on the bitterness of my own simplicity.

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