We were home with the kids this afternoon, getting ready to go to a pumpkin-carving party. My husband answered the phone and handed it to me: "Charge nurse at your work wants to talk to you."
This doesn't happen much. I answered, apprehensive, and the nurse said, "Could you hold for Dr. Nice Guy?" I held. I'd actually talked to him earlier in the day about a patient we'd both seen recently, so I figured he was calling about that.
Then a different doctor came on the line. "I have some bad news," he said.
The senior ER physician died suddenly this morning. He had a heart attack while working out at home. He had a wife and college-age children. He was young, healthy, and fit. And he just...died.
He was a good man. He was a good doctor. He practiced emergency medicine for more than twenty years, and saved a lot of lives. His death will leave holes in many other lives.
Think of him, if you would, and of his wife and children and all the other people whose lives changed today because he died. Remember him. His name was Bill.
My Tall Doctor is sleeping beside me as I write this. I am going to turn off the computer now and do what I used to do when I came home after a weekend on call for hospice. I'm going to lie beside him and feel his chest rise and fall beneath my hand; I'm going to listen to the sound of his breath moving in and out, in and out. I'm going to press my ear to his chest and listen to his heart: beating, beating, beating, beating, beating.