5.11.2008

Beautiful

"I just knew something was wrong, so I came right home." The woman is frantic as she paces around the room.
"Ma'am, can you tell me what happened?" A police officer who is nothing but another large uniform to her flips open his notebook.
"I told you. She's tried to kill herself before, but she's been in therapy for two years. I was out grocery shopping, and I just knew something was wrong. I left and didn't even buy the groceries. I just came right home." She breaks down into tears again, and I want nothing more than to offer her some compassion in a seemingly heartless room.
I can't, though, I'm busy checking her daughter's pupils and putting her on a non-rebreather.
"Here," another officer says as he gestures to the bottles in his hand, "these were on the floor next to the note."
Ambien, Paxil and Flexeril bottles are handed to me with nothing in them. I check the date they were prescribed. Just a week ago she was put on the Flexeril after a car accident, and the other two were filled a few days later--full bottles.
Her mother stops pacing and looks at the officer.
"Did you say there was a note?"
"Uh...yes, ma'am."
"Well can I see it?"
"No ma'am, it's evidence."
"Evidence!?"
"Yes ma'am, we can't rule this as a suicide attempt until we finish an investigation."
"Please, I just want to see what she said."
"I'm sorry."
Tears stream like rivers down her cheeks. Her face is mottled from the sobs, and her hair is disheveled from running her hands through it.
Her daughter mumbles incoherently from time to time and plays with the tassel on a throw pillow she can reach.
"Alright, let's go," my partner says to me after we load her onto the stretcher.
We wheel her out to the front door, and another officer helps take her down the stairs as I get the jump bag.
The hair on the back of my neck stands up as I feel someone grab my arm. I see that our patient has latched onto me, and I look at her quietly. She looks me square in the eyes and takes a deep breath.
"Isn't it beautiful?" She grins like a child who has just seen presents under the Christmas tree.
For a moment, everything stops but me. I don't hear her mother's sobs. I don't hear the radio traffic between dispatch and the police. I don't hear the birds chirping on this beautiful day, and I don't hear anything anyone says to me.
I breathe in the fresh air and see the koi, frozen in time in their glassy pond. The leaves on the tree are a vibrant shade of green, and a bright yellow plant grows in the shadow cast by the trunk. The red lights of the ambulance glow cheerfully in the moment, and the blue of the police cars mix in perfect harmony.
And then it all starts again.
"Staircases," she says dreamily, "so many staircases with the green ladders."
My partner chuckles a bit, but I'm silent. From the ambulance, I can hear her mother wailing, punctuating the still summer afternoon with grief.
"Shit, she's going south," my partner says as he grabs a bag-valve mask. The purple of the bag matches the purple writing in her shirt, and suddenly I feel goosebumps creeping up my arms.

After we clear from the hospital, we step outside while we wait for a face sheet. Looking at the sunset, my partner sighs and puts his hands on his head.
"Isn't it beautiful," he asks offhandedly.
Something catches in my throat, and I look at the ground.
"Yeah, it is."

10 comments:

Scott said...

That is sad. And very well written.

Fyremandoug said...

Great Writing Sam.....tough call

The Knitting Nikki said...

Heartbreaking.

Tori said...

Pills never made sense to me as a suicide method. You never knew enough to know that the amount of pills you had would kill you or really mess you up but let you live.

John-Michael said...

To give your Self permission ... endorsement ... to be open to the anguished Spirits of these whose lives are in such turmoil, is a courageous and noble undertaking. I ask that You give careful attention to the comfort and restoration of your own Spirit as you so lovingly make all of You available in such a generous way.

Because I love You ...

david mcmahon said...

The sheer power of your description places us right beside you.

Paula said...

I teared up when I read this.

It's this that inspired me.

a day in the life said...

And then I realized--
It inspired me to write this. ^

Kathryn said...

Wow. Just, wow.

Over from David's.

GoneBackSouth said...

Yeah, very powerful stuff.