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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A Sudden and Unexpected Loss

Death is something that I have a lot of experience with.  As an EMT and nurse I've watched people pass away right in front of me.  Sometimes it was expected and sometimes it was the last thing in the world that was suppose to happen.  All those times, however, it was different.  It was my job.  I was suppose to either care for them or comfort them as they left this world.  This weekend I was touched by a different kind of death...   A familiar and tragic kind.  

In my nearly three decade stint on this Earth I have been blessed with very few deaths that have hit close to home.  In fact, every single one of those deaths were either expected, due to age/illness, or not on the same day I last spoke with that person.  For me, until this weekend, death wasn't close and cruel.  

Then I received a call from work.  A nurse didn't show up for her shift.  She was a young nurse, near my age, who never ever just blatantly didn't come in to work.  If she was ever sick she always gave plenty of notice.  No one had gotten a hold of her for a full day.  The other employees were asking me what to do since no one was answering her phone.I wasn't really sure how to react.

Then, out of curiosity and seeing if there were any leads to her whereabouts, I checked her facebook page.  That was where I discovered something utterly unexpected.

I literally gasped in horror aloud when I read what I saw.

"Rest in Peace"   "We will miss you"   "I can't believe you are gone"

Those messages were posted on her page by at least a half dozen people over the last couple of hours.  I simply couldn't digest what I was reading and what it meant.  She couldn't be dead, could she?  I just saw here and talked with her the morning before!   What on Earth could have happened?  

I pulled my emotions together and went into work.  Several of my coworkers wondered why I was there on the weekend so I tried to just concentrate on my task at hand and not directly answer their questions.  The last thing I wanted was to start a massive rumor before I had investigated or confirmed anything.  

So, for the next two hours I worked my way through various phone calls to 911 and state troopers.  Simultaneously I stumbled on a news article about a fiery crash where two people in their 20's were killed the night before.  While the two people in the crash were not identified my heart still sank.  I knew it was her. 

The article was horrible.  My eyes welled up with tears reading it.  It described the care going off the road at interstate speeds, hitting a tree without so much as attempting to touch the breaks, and then bursting into flames.  The fire chief in that town described it as the worst accident he had seen in his 33 year career while speculating that the driver must have been asleep.   

It was too much.

Over and over in my mind all I could do was replay an image of the crash in my head and then remember how earlier that morning her and I had been talking and joking around.  She was talking about a lot of things in the future and when she left I said "see you later!" as she walked out the door at the end of her shift.  Never ever in my mind would I have imagined that would be the last time I'd talk with her, that the very next day she would be gone. 

While we weren't best friends and we didn't hang out together outside of work she was still someone I regarded as a friend and good nurse.  Something like this shouldn't happen to her... or anyone.  Despite it all... life does move on.  One must keep up the pace. 


Sheilagh said...

I am so sorry to hear this,you are right this shouldn't happen, but it does and family and friends are left heartbroken and rendered in despair. It is a cliche but it is true, that we should always try to live our best life as we never know when or how our lives will end. We know it is going to happen but believe it will be sometime in the dim and distant future. You know through your job, life isn't safe, it can be snuffed out at any given moment. But when it happens to someone you know in such tragic circumstances, it shakes you to the core. My heart goes out to your friends family and to you. She has gone too soon, too young.

Sending hugs across the pond.


Suzanne Mc said...

My prayers go out to the family, friends and coworkers of these two young people gone way too soon. When something like this strikes "close to you" it certainly gives us the opportunity to take inventory of our own lives. Last month a boy my son's age (11 years old) died as a result of an ATV accident. That incident made me look at my son in a new light and enjoy everything he does. Count your blessings and appreciate them. We are not guaranteed tomorrow.

Beth said...

Thank you for your post. I can feel the love and care in your words. We need these reminders that in an instant everything you knew changes. We need to remember that all we really have is right now.

Plan for tomorrow, but LIVE today!!!

FireMom said...

I'm sorry for your unexpected loss.

Babs said...

thank you for a reality check, although I am much older it usually isn't needed too much anymore, but still with someone so young it reminds us it's one thing in life where no age limit is a requirement.

BTW, thank you for all you do, you and your husband.

Kristin said...

It seems odd to say it's healthy to be reminded of the sudden change that life can bring, but I think it is. I know I take far too much for granted and as a rut. Time to be thankful for the little things!

Thank you.

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