I wondered what the mother thought, how she felt as she held that new life in her arms. I wondered if she was full of joy and hope and excitement for this new life. I wondered if she, like Mary, had a song in her heart.
I wondered if there was a father in that room, smiling at the scene. I wondered if he bent down to kiss the crown of that head. I wondered what he felt.
I wondered because I found myself standing at the foot of the bed on what would be the day of their death. There was no mother, no father, no siblings, no children. There was no family for this life, this soul.
We waited until our shift was settled and then we went to our work. We: the nurse, the respiratory therapist, and me. We were the sole people surrounding this life who now lay in the bed.
I took the tube from the mouth and we stood there. We watched the rise and fall of the chest. We watched the monitor reveal the heart beats. We didn’t want her to be alone.
My phone rang. Another patient needed something and I left the room.
I became busy.
My phone rang again. It was the nurse. The patient was no more.
I again found myself at the foot of the bed. I donned the stethoscope. I listened a final time to the chest. There was no rise and fall, no heart beat. I pronounced the patient, reported the time of death.
And then it was done. The life was over.
I stood alone in the room with the patient and wondered the course of their life. Wondered where the family went. Wondered where this body would go.
Hours later I passed the room: it was clean, the lights were on, the bed was made. It was waiting for the next life to come, as though the other had never been.
But it was. I remember.