We took care of a lot of trauma patients in my busy surgical practice in Little Rock. Whether by helicopter or ambulance, patients who had been seriously injured were quickly transported to our hospital. Very often I would spend hours resuscitating and operating on these patients. Most did well. Sadly though, despite rapid transport to the hospital, despite a well-trained staff intervening quickly, sometimes the injuries were too severe, the blood loss too great, the head injury too devastating and the patient would not survive.
I can remember so many times going out to the emergency department waiting area, to a small room to one side and speaking to the anxious family members awaiting news. The conversation would always start with “I am so sorry. We did everything we could possibly do.” And the conversation would end with silent embraces and shared tears. And for the next few days I would carry around a lingering sadness as I grieved this sudden loss of life. As I shared the pain of a family’s world forever changed in an instant.
For years I made it my routine whenever I would leave the hospital at the end of the day to leave through the emergency department, specifically past the door to the little living room where those conversations had so often taken place. I did this to remind myself that life is uncertain. Life is fragile. Things can change in an instant. I did this to remind myself to be thankful for those close to me. To live and love knowing there is no guarantee of tomorrow. To live and love in the moment. To live and love with no regrets.