by Ty Tamashiro
trauma and Easter tidings
| But Did You Die?
By: Ty Tamashiro
Â "Medical ALERT. Emergency department. Now. Code 10. Emergency Department. Facility Lockdown." The voice of the operator boomed from the overhead speakers, three times.
David glanced at his watch and thought it was kind of late in the shift for something like this to occur. "It is 0615, for Christ sakes! Who the hell is shooting someone at this hour?" He said quietly to himself, not wanting anyone sitting next to him in the waiting area to hear him.
Â "David, please follow me to triage room four," softly whispered the angelic-looking attendant. "Do I need to change into a clean pair of scrubs?" he looked at his appearance in the mirror on the wall thinking there was blood all over his uniform. But there was no blood; he wasn't even wearing his scrubs. "What the fuck?" He mused.
The room he sat in was beautiful for triage. He heard soft music playing from the speakers, and he could smell the heavenly aroma of freshly brewed coffee and freshly baked pastries. And he listened to the whirring of milk as it was being frothed."Where the fuck am I? What emergency department has a coffee barista? And croissants?" He said out loud this time since he was sure no one would care what he was saying. He knew he wasn't at the hospital he has been working at for the past seven years.
There was a gentle knock on the door and the most handsome man with a beard and the bluest eyes he had ever seen entered his suite. "Good morning David." He said, "How are you feeling today? Would you like a cup of coffee just the way you like it? Cream and two sugars." He placed the porcelain cup on the petit table next to the sofa David was sitting in. He smiled and gestured to a silver tray with croissants, blueberry muffins, scones, and dishes of butter and clotted cream. "Normally I would, but I have to sleep when I get home. Workday three of three tonight." He said nervously. The man was so attractive with the whole kit and caboodle of manners, voice, and, that way he looked at you while speaking.
"Where am I? My charge nurse told me to go to the ED and get checked out; I got a needle prick. This area is unlike any place in the hospital I work in," he said. The man looked intently at him and smiled. David giggled the way he did when he was extremely nervous.
"You are in the last room; triage four," he calmly stated. "I have just a few questions to ask, and then you may continue. Shall we proceed?" He asked with a wink. David blinked and giggled some more.
The evaluator sat down on the Queen Anne chair beside David and asked," What have you observed and participated in this lesson plan?" He put his hand on David's shoulder, and a white light emanated from his palm. The luminance made David's pupils dilate, and he could see that he wasn't in a room at all. He didn't know where he was, but it was somehow familiar to him. He did not feel pain, fear, rejection, hatred, prejudice, or anything else negative. The Beetle's song, All You Need Is Love. Love. Love. Love is all you need, is what he thought he was hearing from the speakers above.
"Do you recall how you passed through? The observers said you did not hesitate, you jumped in the line of fire, and even when you were mortally wounded you tried to stop the man from hurting himself," he continued, "they decided you were in need for triage and that is how you got to triage four."
"Why do you keep saying, triage four? I don't get it. Triage is triage. "He asked. The man looked gently at David and whispered, "Wake up David."
With that, he knew everything. Without any more words to say, he understood everything the man had said and was now not saying. The heart of Jesus. The blood of Jesus. All the Catholic school tomfoolery he endured, even with all the Jesuit education during college. It all made sense to him. He then recalled the tent revivals he ventured in with all the foot washings.
Â "There is no greater love than to lay down your life for another," [John15:13]
He suddenly remembered the event that brought him to triage four. A woman had been transported to the emergency department with a single GSW to the center of her thoracic cavity, shattering her manubrium and sternum. Her heart had a puncture from a bone fragment, and she entered cardiac arrest when she was on the gurney. This wasn't his patient but when the code call for gunshot wound came in everyone suited up and stood ready to act.
The doctor on duty immediately ordered units of blood and to begin CPR. David leaped to the task, and on the first compression, the woman's chest collapsed, and blood spurted from the gaping wound drenching the useless protective apparel.
Fear-ridden cries were coming from the hallway that led to the trauma rooms, and then an eerie silence as a man with a gun stood at the entrance of trauma room seven. David was leaning over the woman continuing chest compressions when the doctor told him to stop and gestured toward the man with the gun.
"Let her die or let me finish the job!" He screamed at the doctor, but his eyes locked on David and his bloody hands poised above the woman's chest to resume compressions.
"Sir, please let us continue. Her heart has stopped, and she has lost a lot of blood. She will die if we don't intervene," said David, with clarity and calmness.
"She smothered our baby girl with a plastic bag; she murdered her! My baby was only two," he cried, and with renewed determination, he raised his weapon and aimed towards her head. "I hope you rot in hell," he whispered to her and squeezed the trigger.
"No!" David screamed. He managed to push the doctor out of the way, but the bullet pierced his neck severing an artery. The gunman cried in anguish, "I'm sorry!" And turned the gun towards himself and placed the nozzle in his mouth. David hobbled to him and managed to disarm the broken figure of a man and knock the weapon to the bloodied floor. He dropped to his knees, and hospital security then secured the scene. As they dragged him to a safe room he quietly mumbled, "I am so sorry, I meant to kill her and then kill myself. What do I have left?"
The doctor and three nurses picked up David and placed him on a gurney, quickly responding to the spurting blood from his neck. The staff was in shock that only a few minutes had passed since David was trying to save the woman's life and now there they were doing the same thing for their coworker. He grabbed the doctor's hand and pushed it away knowing he did not have much time left. Had it been his jugular vein they could have slowed the flow and began some repair. The bullet tore through his carotid artery; death was imminent. The doctor realized what David had motioned and whispered to him, "You are so brave. Everyone will know of your sacrifice." He leaned in closer to David and softly said, "they are waiting for you, gently go my friend."
David covered his face with his hands and began to sob. "I couldn't save her; I wanted to keep her alive so that the father could have had some relief if justice prevailed. And now he will bear a cross that he killed me. Please, there must be a way I can still help him. It was an accident! Is there someone I can talk to about this?"
The evaluator smiled and offered, "You don't have to. You did what you believed. When Jesus died for our sins, it is a belief that his blood would wash away the sins of the world. It did. He rose on the third day, and we have everlasting life. He also said he would return and anyone that believed in him would also rise with him."
"But he never came back; people are still waiting. People were creating crazy ass cults and shit. It always seemed to me like a cruel con game while I was growing up. And as an adult, I found it hard to believe in God and Jesus because of the all the hardships, cruelties, deception and crimes people have done all in the name of..." he continued." I am so tired of people being mean to each other and wearing a mask that conceals the hideousness of their heart and soul."
"You don't have to believe in God or Jesus, my friend. The way you lived this life was what was intended," he gently said. "And, He did return. Many times, he returned to see the progress of humanity. Some viewed his crucifixion as a catch-all."
"A catch-all? I remember a brother in seminary comment in those same words. We used to take smoke breaks and skip Latin class for coffee sprees." David reminisced and gazed at the handsome evaluator. "He was dismissed from the program a year before I had been expelled," he rambled. "Thomas felt that many believed they could continue to do bad things, to sin, hurt other people if they confessed their sins and got resolution from a priest through confession. He believed that wasn't Jesus' intention. He felt that Jesus was teaching by example and that was what we should have been emphasizing during Mass."
"Do you think he was wrong?" he asked David. "No, in fact after his expulsion, I began similarly looking at things, "David continued." I strongly believed that you didn't need religion at all. Well not in the square box, square soul way. After everything that I went through and the crap that I have seen people do then eagerly justify their actions through religion, I got a bad taste from all the bread and wine I had consumed."
"And with that, that is all the questions I have for you. The time has come for you to continue." He said, almost reluctantly.
Â "Wait, you never really asked any real questions, where am I? Oh shit! Is this purgatory?" He nervously asked.
"Purgatory? Buddy, you are a Catholic underneath your healthy skepticism. Always have been, always will. That's why I loved you," he said, with a devilish twinkle in his eyes. "You decide if you would like to go back to this lesson plan, or move on to another."
"Return to this life? Did you not see what happened? I got shot in the neck through the carotid. I'm dead, dead, the dead." David joked. He thought it over and reached for the delicate cup of coffee and inhaled its aroma. "Is that amaretto cream? Just the way I like it." He looked at the evaluator intently this time, without giggling. He had seen those blue eyes before. David stood and grabbed a croissant, "I would like to go back. I do. But how? "he asked.
"A miracle," he jested. "But did you die? And oh, have a Happy Easter!" Thomas said as he stood up and reached for David's hand to take him back.