“Ok, I’m going to call it. Any objections?”
Silence from the room.
All motion stopped. No more CPR. No more rummaging for the next medication in the crash cart. The nurse on the phone calling for another two units of pack red blood cells simply stopped mid sentence and hung up.
I dropped the empty syringe that had spent the past hour and a half clutched in my right hand into the pocket of my white coat. The fingers were stiff and achy as I stretched them out. “Time of death….” I cranned my neck around the greying head of the house supervisor so that I could see the wall clock by the door. “…. 0325.”
“Good job, everyone. Let’s clean up so we can let the family back.”
Syringes were counted and recorded by the clerk to make sure the amount of each med given was accurately reflected in the log. Debris was swept up. Hands gently covered the emaciated body with a gown and pulled up the sheet, the eyelids were closed. A nurse took out the IV and another pulled the tubes from his nose and mouth, wiping the blood and mucous from the now lifeless lips.
He looked so peaceful.
Cancer of the stomach. He had certainly suffered. He was not willing to die peacefully, refusing hospice and refusing to sign a “do not resuscitate” order. He fought even at the end.
My wrist still hurt.
I liked being around death. It was hard to explain to people. They would stare at me with a puzzled and slightly horrified look on their faces, lost for words so I stopped talking about it altogether. I always wanted to ask the dying to put in a good word for me when they got to where they were going, but I never did.
One by one everyone left the room.
In a minute I would go out to his wife and children and explain that we had done everything we possibly could but I needed a minute before facing the onslaught of grief.
I put a hand on his chest and said a silent prayer for his soul, then one for mine. I looked back up at his face. Strangely, his eyes were open. They were a bright blue. The bluest blue I think I had ever seen.
Then they blinked.
A hand grabbed my shoulder and pulled me closer.
My heart skipped a beat as fear rushed through my body and into my fingers and toes.
Then the hand let go and fell back to the bed with a flop, as if there was no more energy left. It must have been some sort of cadaveric spasm…
The rasping sound came from his lips but how could that be? He was still attached to the heart monitor, someone had forgotten that detail, and there was no heartbeat. I checked for a carotid pulse. Nothing. No breathing.
“What do you mean? Who is she?”
The eyes bore into me.
His lips moved. “She knows…” I touched the lips. They were cold.
“Who is she?!?!??” I asked again.
My voice rose as I asked again and again but the blue eyes just stared back at me never wavering. I grabbed the shoulders and shook him but he still provided no answers.
Anger and terror rose up into my throat, swelling into a tight lump that lodged there. My brain raced from irrational thought to irrational thought. I could not breathe.
Someone knew what I was doing? But how? I’d been so careful!
My hand touched the pocket with the empty syringe.
I grabbed his shoulders and shook him. Hard. I punched the chest. I yelled at the blue eyes, tore at his lips…
Someone pulled me away.
“Doc! What the hell is wrong with you?”
“She knows. She knows. She knows. She knows. She knows. She knows. She knows. She knows. She knows. She knows….”