i am waiting, anxious for the patient to arrive. the paramedics called ahead about the 3-year-old girl they are bringing. they wheel her in, surrounded. there are EMTs on the bed with her so they can continue CPR between the ambulance and the emergency room.

compressions. breaths.

starting IVs, giving drugs, fluid boluses, electrolytes.

compressions. breaths.
compressions. breaths.

we continue what they have started as we hook her up to monitors and keep administering fluids, drugs.

compressions. breaths.

with any other patient, my morbid coworkers would have referred to her as "already dead".

but how do you give up on a 3-year-old girl?

compressions. breaths.

drugs. keep checking for any signs of life.

she is cold and we warm her. you can't "call it" until her body is still not responding, even at normal temperature.

i step in for my turn of compressions as someone continues with the mask giving her breaths to my right. i will myself to numbness as i press deep into her chest, little hope left.

compressions. breaths.

the doctor is running through all the possibilities, resisting letting go of this little one. the nurses, too, are fighting for her, refusing to give up even as the doctor is saying "time of death:..."

and yet. she was already dead.

nothing we could have done would have made any difference. but we had to try.

and then? walk away.


there came a moment for me three years ago that literally felt like a resuscitation.

i was alive for what felt like the first time.

and, so, naturally, i wanted to invite everyone into this newfound freedom. i would tell my story and ask about theirs.

but they seemed numb. they couldn't see the beauty i saw of going deeper and freer. they were content.

i kept trying to be the person breathing air into dead structures, trying to circulate Life and healing in the deepest venous caverns.

but they didn't seem to want what i was offering. they wanted to stick with their safe system that felt so soul-killing to me.

and as i offered the life i had been given, and received only offers that felt like death in return, i knew.

i had to walk away.

(for now)

(because how do you give up on them? they are still so beautiful. so worth loving.)

AuthorJamie Bonilla