My tears were uncontrollable, instinctual, and atavistic. Over the years, I’ve befriended Death; I’m a nurse. I understand death, mortality, and the nature of humanity.
Yet, I can’t cognitively digest the death of a child.
In lieu of writing this article at home, I instead chose to write it outside the pediatric ICU at Children’s Mercy Hospital.
I wanted a taste of death, something raw and repugnantly more distasteful than that to which I’m accustomed.
Whilst in the waiting room, I felt Death’s presence. Instead of blessing an adult with his eternal dictate, a child was in his crosshairs.
The family wept, the mother fell to her knees, crying uncontrollably.
The father, a social automaton, tried to act as a stalwart and comfort his wife and the bereaved, all whilst torn from the inside out.
I don’t know the specifics, what caused their child to perish, but it was an experience inadequately communicated by words.
The nurses, who tepidly entered the madness, felt grief, yet remained stone cold in appearance. After all, it would be unprofessional and too human to confirm their humanity.
They were, like most professionals, professing their inhumanity for the sake of professional progress.
I’m not a pediatric nurse – I can’t handle it. I admit, a child’s death makes me weak in the knees. As a nurse, we’re thrown into mortality.
We are, in a way, the brokers of Death. We’re the middlemen, the professionals who help the weak, yet whom ultimately assist them to the shore of the river Styx.
Albeit, we may be the concierge of death, we don’t always have to embrace the role.
When a child is in insurmountable pain and staring down the barrel of Death’s dark revolver, we can’t prevent the fact that they are Death’s cannon fodder.
However, we can act as a bridge between this world and the next, alleviating pain by comforting the dying child and the bereaved.
And while the Angel of Death may hover nearby, wings outstretched and ready to embrace the soon-to-pass, I cannot help but wish desperately to clip his black wings and create an impasse.
I don’t have the answers, and I don’t know why children are taken from this Earth all too soon, but I do know the answer is beyond human.