I carry you in my heart


I carry you in my heart.

Not your cold and quiet and still little body.  No.

I carry the you that I never knew. The you that your parents grieve. The you that will never grow up. The you that laughed and played that nobody new will ever meet again.

I carry you in my heart.

It was that you that made me grit my teeth when I heard they were bringing your body to me to bring back to life.

And so you came to me, and I began to carry you.

Not today, I told myself. I’ve never had to tell anyone that their child is dead. That we couldn’t bring them back.  That their child’s story has ended. I’ve been there before when another doctor has told them, and time would always stop as I witnessed their nightmare unfold. I dread the day that I must be this messenger. Not today, I told myself.

You were never my child, but I know the staggering depth of love and hope that arrives along with a child. You were so loved, I could see it in the desperate eyes of your parents.

So I carry your dreams untouched, the loves you never had, the secrets you never kept, and the travels you never took.

I got a little bit lucky that day. I wish you had been luckier. We did get you back. I told your mom that the fight wasn’t over. You were so sick, and your death was still looming in the room, a seeming inevitability. And hours later, it was over. Everything everybody did just wasn’t enough, and you slipped away from us.

So I carry you.

I didn’t know you were gone until the next day. I called to see how you were doing, and they told me the news. It didn’t really matter anymore that I wasn’t the messenger. I had been hoping to hear of your recovery, that one day you returned to school and sports and a life with a future, with hope. But hope was done now.

So I carry you in my heart.

Elizabeth ter Haar is an emergency physician.

Image credit: Shutterstock.com


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