The end is come
There emanated from the vital signs monitor eccentric, rapid beeps, followed by an elongated one in a higher pitch. At that, many things happened. Nurses and doctors rushed to Shaun’s side, and tried resuscitating him with every medical trick in the book: chest compressions, intubation. Helpless pleas of “Shaun! Come back!” broke out amidst the maelstrom. The whine of the defibrillator charging stung the ears. But Shaun remained unmoved, his eyes shut, a deathly gloom passing over his face. The flurry of efforts by the medical team began to slow, and finally to a stop. For a moment all stood still, the silence finally broken by the doctor’s pronouncement of death.
“Can you imagine the pain of watching the nurses place a white sheet over your son’s body?” It was a finality. A brutal epiphany dismantling Jimmy of his armour wrought of denial and hope, leaving him utterly naked. Shaun’s voice, his laughter, would never again fill the air, never again to be heard.
Wheeling the gurney, on which Shaun’s lifeless body laid, the family now had to make their way to the morgue. The length of the walkway seemed to stretch on, and every step Jimmy took was a drag as if he were shackled. The nurses, with whom Shaun had bonded, were downcast, their tears falling unrestrained. Other parents, whose own children were sick, threw backward glances of dread, their eyes not daring to meet Jimmy’s, unable to even imagine the possibility that the same stroke of doom cruel and senseless might strike them.
Despite having just lost his son, Jimmy still had something to attend to. A pressing administrative matter. He headed to the basement level, and found his way to the room, where he sat alone with his thoughts. Then entered a couple, their faces wreathed in smiles as they cooed over their newborn, bathing him in love. It was as if fate had fangs for teeth, and was now goading Jimmy. “Who’s next?” said the lady behind the counter, her voice cheery. Jimmy walked up to the counter, and said in staccato notes, “I need to register the death of my son.” Nine words that took all of him to say out loud. Immediately, a hush fell over the registry of births and deaths, the palpable silence gathering like a tide swallowed him whole.