You were my patient for only two days. My weekend; Saturday and Sunday. Cancer had not been kind to you, first taking your kidney then spreading to your brain, bone, lungs, and lymph nodes. You were quiet. Sometimes you knew where you were, sometimes you didn't.
I remember how when we would turn you how you would howl with pain, and your neighbooring patients would complain. But would never fight us when we turned you, and I remember your trusting brown eyes as you obediently took applesauce from the spoon I offered.
Your family was all there when we rapid- responsed you for the second time on Sunday. You were unresponsive except for moaning to sternal rub. Your vitals were collapsing. Your young daughter looked very dignified and proud as she clenched her jaw even as tears ran down her cheeks, and your wife cried openly on my shoulder. Together, the two women you loved most decided to start comfort care, make you a DNR, and let you go.
When I gave report to the second shift nurse, your breathing was already becoming slower. Your daughter sat beside you and held your cold fingers, whispering to you about how you two loved walk on the beach and eat ice cream together. I cast a sad look to your wife, who didn't return my gaze, just sat with her head in her hands.
The next morning, I entered the break room and the first thing I did was check the census. Sure enough, your name had vanished. You died quietly in your sleep during second shift.
I didn't know you that well, but I will remember you as the brave man with trusting brown eyes. The man with a family that was stronger than the disease. The man who loved walking on the beach and eating ice cream with your daughter.
I should have hugged your wife goodbye.
I really should have hugged your wife goodbye.