A little boy died a while ago. This kid was such a sweet-looking boy too, though what child isn’t in those circumstances? I can’t even picture anymore what he himself looked like though; all I can see is this kid’s cut and crushed little head. The moment he rolled in and we got a look at him we knew that there was no chance. We worked on him for a long time anyway; I don't think the doctor could bring herself to call it, to make it so final. I think if it were possible she would have run it another year, give him one more technical birthday to his meager age.
After it was finally called we tried to clean him up, wash the blood off his face and his small body, but there wasn’t anything we could do for his head. We ended up making a sort of halo of towels around his face to cover it for his family, and ourselves, and it was so inadequate.
I can still hear the sound of his mother screaming when she saw him for the first time after it was over. There is nothing in this world like the sound of that kind of grief. This woman was playing with her kid a few hours ago, and now he was dead and she all she could do was scream and sob. And then the sound of the dad’s grief, and then the grandmother’s… Every time someone new arrived the department filled again with the sound of their shock and suffering. It's a sound that won't be blocked by a closed door. It’s a sound that cuts through and lingers in your mind forever afterwards.
It was awful. I think of all those times that I imagined myself in this woman’s scenario; our boys were even the same age. The pain of just imagining it takes my breath away, and it’s not even close to the reality of the experience. I’ve seen children die before, but to just be having a normal day playing around with your healthy kid and then to see him killed before your eyes with no warning and no way to fix it… It’s the worst thing I’ve ever seen. I wanted to hug this woman and beg her forgiveness for our impotence. I wanted to tell her how desperately sorry I was that we couldn’t fix her child when it was our job to do so. I cried for this woman because there was nothing else I could for her. I cried for her and then I went home and watched my own little boy sleep, thanking God that I wasn’t in her shoes that night.
I can’t imagine how people can work in pediatric trauma units. This one child is going to haunt me forever. I will always remember his name, see his wounds, hear his mother’s screams. How can people do this all the time? To fail a code on a child… there is no worse loss in this world. I'm not really sure what to do with the memory of it.