Always kiss them goodbye.
The call comes out over the radio and your adrenaline starts to rush. A boat accident. One of the men can’t be found, and the other is badly injured. You jump in the back of the rig and start setting equipment up while your partner drives (too fast) to the scene.
Always say “I love you.”
One of the men is flown to a large trauma center. My phone rings and my sister is crying. Suddenly, the man we are searching for becomes more than a patient. He is now a name. A face. And my heart breaks for my sister’s friend. I tell her that no, they haven’t found him yet.
Always make the most of every day.
It’s been two days. I come on duty and ask if he’s been found. I am told that the hooks found him on the bottom of the lake last night. I think back to when I was 18-years-old and saw the hooks for the first time. Bigger than my head, I had jokingly asked if they were to catch humans. I was unjokingly told that yes, they are designed to hook a person under the knees. And then I was told that whomever is the one holding the other end of the hooking line should never look at the body. Ever. It’s too hard to move on if you see his face.
Always make the most of every night.
I think of his wife and their 7-year-old son. I wonder if his dirty laundry is still laying on the floor at home. I wonder if she kept that last text message he sent. I wonder if he stopped to whisper I love you before he left that morning, or if she took the time to kiss him goodbye. And I rememeber that all of my patients are someone’s husband, sister, mother. I remember that, God forbid, it could be my husband, sister, mother.
So always, always, always, stop and say “I love you.” And always kiss them goodbye.