One a.m.

Note: Details of this case have been altered to protect patient identities.

It is 1 a.m. A man lies motionless on the bed. A police officer shifts his weight. A mother sobs uncontrollably. A nurse steps back, sidestepping the blood. A doctor calls out the time.

It is 1 a.m. Two children become fatherless. A bullet lays in the street somewhere. A few bags of fluids hang needlessly. The morgue is notified. Questions of organs and other lives are being discussed. Denial, grief, anger and despair make appearances.

It is 1 a.m. Blood drips to the floor. A mother screams about a life lost, her wedding to come, and a walk down the aisle that would now be done without her son. A chaplain's words go unheard. A resident listens through her stethoscope, just in case. Students peer into the room and withdraw quickly.

It is 1 a.m. An accomplice sits solemnly two rooms down, refusing to cooperate. A sister awaits news. Two eyes stare, lifeless and unaware. A nurse begins to pick up the room. Students talk in hushed tones about the violence they are seeing for the first time, attempting to process the correlation of pulses, screams, and blood.

It is 1 a.m. The group begins to disband. Attending physicians leave first, having seen this carnage before. Residents peel away, back to their duties. The chaplain leads the mother away. Only the students remain, lingering with some new emotion, some new sense of finality.

It is 1 a.m. A body is taken away. Floors are cleaned, and trashcans are emptied. Bits of a man that should never see the light of day are dispassionately discarded. Conversation begins to pick up again. A pager chimes.  

It is 1 a.m. at Parkland hospital, and a man's life has ended.



Taylor Dodgen, Class of 2013