Things change you. Loss is something that shapes you forever. You never get over it; you just learn to live with it, the scar that’s always on your heart.

Part of me always wondered how my dad died in a hospital. How did they let him die? I guess in my 5 year old brain, no one checked on him and he was all alone and just died. Maybe they found him way later. (I know no details like that. My 5 year old brain just filled in gaps, kind of like when I read about spies once and for about 6 months convinced myself–but never told anyone–that my dad wasn’t dead. He was a spy, and would be coming back after he finished his mission. Part of me still wishes that were true.)

Today, I guess I think it might have been different. What if they were there, trying everything they could, and still nothing brought a heartbeat back? What if they did all they knew to do?

I guess here on the other side, I know it’s different. I know it’s possible that someone besides me cried, someone I don’t know. Someone who had seen death many times but was still affected by it because it hurts when it feels like it’s not supposed to happen. When no matter what you know or do, you can’t stop the inevitable. No matter how much you really do care about someone you just met, you can’t change the outcome. And all the knowledge and will and fight crammed into a hot room can’t bring someone back, no matter how much muscle, electricity or medicine.

Maybe people gathered around them and tried to make sure they were ok while they replayed it over and over and tried to figure out what they could have done differently to change the outcome, but they knew full well there was nothing different to have been done by them. That they did what they could, and the outcome was still the same.

No matter how much they are loved by their people, you can’t stop God from calling them home. The final bell has rung; time is up. And no one is to blame. It’s the cycle of life, and it’s cruel and it hurts. But all we can do is cry some tears, gather ourselves back up and soldier on. And see the blessings in the pain. And know that just as my heart’s a little broken for someone I knew for 6 hours that mattered to someone, 36 years ago someone else’s heart was probably a little bit broken for someone who mattered to me.

This job is hard. I hate it for all the ways it breaks me, and I love it for all the ways it makes me better. But this week, it’s hard.

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