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Stories of Those We Carry: Green Glasses

The sun was out - rare this far north on an early spring day.

Visiting cousins from someplace else, you walked along the beach collecting shells and letting sand get between your toes.

Letting the cold water exhilarate your young skin to life.

As late afternoon passed, you and your cousins, 11 and 13, wandered down the beach away from the rented house in the dunes.

At some point the undertow saw your brown 12 year old ankles and pulled you out to sea.

Your cousins heard you struggling in the water, ran to get help, but could not find the unfamiliar house among the unfamiliar dunes.

Finally your cousin knocks on a stranger's door.

Sirens, boats and helicopters race to search the waters, but you are already on the beach.

Too cold to be dead when the paramedics find you.

We know at that when someone goes into the frigid spring surf, they are not coming here to this little hospital.

They are not coming here alive.

The radio crackled with desperation.

The little hospital emergency department is so full that I have to move a patient out of a room to prepare for your arrival.

Your departure.

Still 30 minutes up the beach, code three.

CPR in progress.

You arrive stripped naked and wrapped in blankets, yet somehow your green framed glasses are still on your face.

The paramedic bleeding salt in this dry suit.

Saltwater in his eyes.

Sand sticking to your brown skin.

Needle in the bone of your left leg.

Wires and tubes.

You are almost warm enough.

It is hard to work, silent, knowing.

I turn and find your father and cousin 13 are being brought into the room.

They sit in chairs in the corner, watching us with empty eyes.

The doctor bends on one knee in front of your father to speak to him, but your cousin must translate the words.

Your cousin had run into the water at first.

He ran heroically, up the beach.

He had screamed your name as they searched.

His voice is steady and slow as he tells your father what he already knows.

Because I have no words of comfort in any language for a father in this situation.

I close your eyes.

I bring your green glasses and hand them silently to your father.

They remind me of my daughter -- the same age -- and the glasses that she wears.

There is only one of me.

A father of a 12 year old girl.

A nurse in a rural emergency room.

I have to close the curtain on this room and its silent sobbing.

I have to meet the next ambulance as it arrives at the door.


When I read about #thosewecarry on twitter, this is the case that came to my mind. One of many, that I carry. Read more at or follow The Haunted One on twitter at @thosewecarry

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