Thursday, January 19, 2012
Dr. Devoted was a very quiet patient, despite or maybe because of his local celebrity. I had seen him myriad times on TV and sometimes in the community. I had even known him as a young child singing in a choir at an annual benefit concert where he made opening remarks about his successful career and long fight with cancer. He was winning then.
Last night, I had seen him for the last time of many times in my ER, a shell of the man he was. He had definitely taking a trouncing from his disease, but regardless was always polite. He was also honest. He never pretended to not have pain nor to have more than he did. He would meekly ask for a pillow, but never without that hint of need. Last night, he was too weak to open his eyes. His frame was thinned from what I had known, his neck curved into an uncomfortable dive into the awaiting pillow. Pale, weak, with his wheelchair heavily protected by his beloved wife, he lay in quiet slumber as he awaited his room upstairs.
I did not realize his time would come so soon. Recognizing Death standing over someone's shoulder is yet a skill I have to develop. I can foresee struggle, even grave danger, but not Death himself with any regularity. Dr. Devoted was a scholar, public servant, and kindred spirit. Rest in peace, sir, for you have touched uncountable lives with your passion and wonderful use of your role as a public figure.
Rest in Peace.