Goodbye, My Friend

Mere hours ago, one of my patients died, not by his own hand, but suddenly, unexpectedly, far too young, far too soon.

Words fail me. Yet at the same time, I cannot let this night pass without my having typed at least a few such words onto a screen, into cyberspace, for him, whose smile I will never again see.

My God, never again.

Goodbye, my friend. For indeed we were not just “doctor and patient,” were we? It matters not that in another few hours, in the very next daylight I will see, I will write my final note in your chart, does it, for you were never just another note, never just words under federal protection.

These very words that I type, at this very moment: God, I wish you could see them.  I wish I could see you seeing them. I wish we could laugh about them.  I wish I could hear you say, “Jesus, Doc, lighten up, why don’t you.”

I promise, my friend, that one day I will.  The memory of your smile will help me do just that.

But for now, I have to ask you to give me a few hours, a few days, as long as it will take.

May somewhere, somehow, not just my memory of you, but you—you—know: it was never just a job.

At this very moment, you cannot know how glad I am that I can write that.

But then on second thought: maybe you always did know that.

Ergo, your smile.

Goodbye, my friend. Goodbye.


12 responses

  1. At times, all the words I could say, the platitudes and well-meant words of compassion just don’t fly. I wish I were beside you to give you a hug, a hand squeeze, a cup of coffee and just let you know that you are cared for and your loss is understood. My prayers WILL be raising for you and your patient’s family. ((HUGS)), ^^ [prayers]

  2. Rod,
    I am so sorry to hear about your loss. I know that you always take your work seriously. For you, that means being the doc, friend, or father-figure that your patients need to get back on their feet. While it is horrible to lose someone so young, at least you can find solace in the fact that you made a difference in his life and continue to make a difference for so many more. You know how to reach me if you need to chat. It’s the least I can do for all the times you have been there for me.

  3. Pingback: A VA Psychiatrist Bids Farewell to His Patient, His Friend | Off The Base

  4. To each of you, I want to say thank you. My silence this week has certainly not come from not noticing each of your kind words. As I write this evening, as I try to find some way over the coming days to make some semblance of peace with it all, I will be deeply, deeply appreciating your support.

  5. God bless…may you find peace…and “closure” yourself….your grief here is an example of how it’s done. Pain, loss, sadness, yes! But it must be done….it’s the flip side of the “caring/loving” coin.

  6. As I read through the struggles, the triumphs, I am reminded everyday that although everybody keeps telling me ‘life goes on’ that sometimes, without warning…it does not. Prayers to you, your patients…your friends.

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