I spent two years working in an emergency room in a small city hospital. The job was second shift handling patient registration. After dinner, and darkness, the vibe of the place changed. You could feel it, as an employee. The cliché of the full moon causing trouble was in full effect.
Nights had ups and downs. We’d have babies delivered in the ER and, once, in the parking lot. Suicidal individuals would get help and admission into facilities. Emergencies would be addressed, from small to large. Frequent flyers attempt to get their meds and the paranoid would be comforted by staff explaining what the word “emergency” meant.
They told me I’d never forget my first code. Code, for those of you not totally familiar with medical shows on television, means a patient is dying. It was a car accident and, to this day, I can still see the family in my mind as they arrived to check on their loved one. That was the hard part. People would walk in at the start of a shift and never walk out.
The hardest part was the children. Some came through critically ill and passed away. As a father of two boys, I’d drive home at midnight and, when I got there I’d go into their rooms and kiss their foreheads. I’d look at them sleeping and be thankful for safety.
The lesson I’d learned is that the sun still crested the horizon. No matter the darkness of night.
Years later I’d be leaving another emergency room. Val had just gone through six hours of struggle and suffering, only to find out we’d miscarried. She was on her way to a surgical suite. I had told her parents I was going home to shower, then would return.
I stepped out of the sliding glass doors with the new sun rising. That night I’d been a father of two with a third on the way. That morning, we were a family of four again. I’d never met our child, but the void was deep enough in my heart that it felt like a tangible thing.
If you are there today, reading this in your email or through a link someone shared, that void may be too real. Maybe you were me last night and now you are home wondering what will happen. Maybe you’re a dad and the whole thing is still spinning in your mind, the hours and minutes feeling like some distant dream.
Loss is real. Loss is powerful. I’m no professional, but hanging your hope on something can make a difference. For me, it was that sunrise. The night, no matter how dark, is not eternal.
Take your time, grieve, and make your peace. Bond with each other. If you have children already, give them an extra hug. There are resources out there like Through the Heart that offer help, from supplies to a listening ear.
The sun will rise and, one day, you will too.