Forgiveness in the emergency room
|The cardiac monitor beeped erratically as Dr. Johnson wrote on the admitting chart.
"Do you want to know a secret?" rasped Mrs. Brian from the bed across from where the doctor sat.
"I'm probably going to die."
Dr. Johnson murmured non-committedly.
"You know this is my third heart attack, right doc?"
The doctor drank in the sagging yellow creases under her eyes. With every troubled inhale he can smell nicotine from across the emergency room.
"Smoking's the only thing that's made my life feel easier."
The doctor jotted down his patient's smoking history.
"You might as well kill me now, doc. Save my family the medical expenses and just kill me before I suffer another heart attack."
He patted his patient on the shoulder while holding an unsigned consent form. "It's much too early for a fourth heart attack Mrs. Brian," he said cheerfully. "Now tell me, do you really not want the surgery?"
Mrs. Brian stared silently at the floor. "What's the point doc? I'll probably just die."
He said nothing, only watching her breathe, struggling to get a fresh breath of air. An eternity passed within a few minutes.
The old lady exhaled quietly.
"Do you want to know a secret doc? I'm scared. But not of dying. But that they'll blame me. Even though they say they won't. But I know. Why waste money on grandma who can't quit smoking even when she's had her third heart attack?"
After a long while he replied, "We all make mistakes ma'am. Breathe easy, and try again."
Attaching the signed consent form to the chart, he watched as they wheeled her out of the emergency room to surgery. He wanted to tell her more, that she was forgiven, but felt it was unnecessary. He knew it wasn't a secret anymore.