The hardest part

Last night started out slow and it was raining quite heavily. My desire to pull people over and stand out the rain was not very high. My second call that night was one of the toughest I have ever had. Dispatch advised of a medical call, Code 3 (lights and sirens), a 32-year-old male not conscious/not breathing. Another officer was dispatched, but because I was not far away I decided to respond to assist the paramedics. I walked up to the house as one paramedic came out asking for my help. He said that they needed the “gurney” and a backboard. I helped him get it out of the ambulance. “This guy is in deep,” he said. I went into the house I saw a woman in a t-shirt with a badge with her name on it. On the front of the shirt was the name of a local restaurant. There were several small children around. One little gal about four-years-old hid around a corner when I came in. She poked her head out, smiled and then waved at me shyly. I waved back and smiled, she then ducked back out of sight behind the wall. I went into the bedroom where the paramedics were working on the patient - the provider, the husband, and the father of this family. He was pale white. No color. He was lifeless. The paramedics were getting tubes into his lungs and veins. They told me to pump the bag that was filling his lungs with air. I looked around for anything out of the ordinary - any sign or reason that this guy was unconscious. There was nothing. While they were doing CPR and getting the I.V. going I looked up. In the hallway was the 4-year-old girl who was waving at me when I came in. She was watching everything. I told one of the paramedics quietly to “get her into the other room.” There was no way that I wanted her to see what we were doing to her daddy. They worked him for a few minutes and then quickly loaded him onto a backboard and then onto the gurney. I stopped in the front room and made sure that the wife had a ride to the hospital. She told me how she was getting ready to go to work. She said her husband felt sick all day and but she just noticed how bad he really was, so she called 911. By that time the ambulance was pulling out. I began to snoop around for anything suspicious. Then I found it! There was a piece of paper folded up by the bed. I just knew it was a suicide note, but instead it was a drawing from one of the kids. It was a stick man and scribbles. I covered up the blood on the bed so that the kids could not see it. Standing in the hallway were all five kids. The 13-year-old was holding a baby, the only boy. She was crying, she asked if he was dead. It hit me like a ton of bricks. I said, “I am not going to lie to you.” She said, like a grown up, “I would not want you to.” I then said simply, “It does not look good.” There was another girl there. She was crying. I knelt down to talk to her. I asked her name. “Shannon,” she said. “How old are you?” “Eight” she said. Then she ran up to me and hugged me and would not let me go. I could not talk, I could not move, I could not get rid of that huge lump in my throat. I held her. I thought about my daughter, I thought about Shannon growing up without a dad, I prayed for her. At that time I thought that I just might be in the wrong profession. Who am I to try and console these kids? Who am I to try to justify or explain the death of their father? Tears flowed down the two older girls’ faces. After a while someone knocked on the front door. It was a lady from the church. She was there to help however she could. I got into my patrol car and began to drive. Dispatch gave me a call of a “gas theft” that had just occurred. I went to the gas station and got the information from the clerk. He was very concerned. I asked how much gas was stolen. It was a few bucks worth. A few lousy dollars, who cares about a few dollars? I told him that I would work on it and see if I could find the person. I then pulled around to the back of the gas station and called my wife. When she got on I told her. Then I cried. And I cried for a long time. I saw those four little girls and that baby. I felt Shannon hugging me so tight. After that I drove around for a while. I saw speeders and other traffic violations. I did not care. I did not understand. Nothing seemed to fit. I went by the hospital before I left work. All they would tell me is that they did get a heartbeat on the guy, but he was not breathing. He was on life support. It was as if life was a glass water globe with snow in it and someone shook it up. Things were all messed up. I know that the “snow” will settle very soon, but I also know that the “snow” will never be the same when it does. I know that I will never be the same after seeing the look on those kids’ faces.

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