I wonder what it is like from a patient’s perspective
One minute their neighbour is there
And the next they are gone.
Screens are shuffled around the bed
And then they are removed
And he with them.
Lifeless body after
I wonder if they wonder
Where they go,
The lifeless bodies.
A new bed appears in their place.
Fresh linen, clean sheets.
And no one talks about where they go.
I wonder if they understand
When we stand at their feet
And one of us says ‘doesn’t qualify for ICU’
And we make a special mark on their file.
That the value of their life is being reduced to a scoring system.
I wonder what they think
When the man across from them
Begs the doctor
“Help me! I can’t breathe!”
And she does nothing.
There is nothing she can do.
She does everything
Everything is not enough.
I wonder if they are afraid.
The ones who are conscious enough to be afraid.
I wonder if the old man
Who looks at me with desperate eyes
Knows that he is dying.
I wonder if the ones who take so long to go
Are waiting for something.
Like the couple who hung onto threads of life,
Day after day,
And then died within hours of each other.
I wonder if they think we are heartless
Because we show no emotion.
Assessment: Patient demised
Plan: Death notification, inform family.
Then we wash our hands.
And go back to whatever we were doing before they were gone.
I wonder how their family members find the grace
To thank us
Minutes after we shatter their world.
I wonder if their souls
Leave this tin-can hospital.
Or do they stay and wait for
A daughter or husband or nephew who they know is on the way.
I wonder if the names of the deceased
Live on in the pages
Of death notifications.
I wonder if the ones who make it out alive
The so-called COVID-survivors
Will remember their neighbour
Who was there one minute
And gone the next.