Clark is offline.
No matter how well we think we know our patients, how close we are, how supportive we try to be, we never know what their journey is really like.
The first person I ever diagnosed with cancer on my own had recurrent melanoma. He was about the same age as Clark, with two small children. I was still in my 20s then, so he was older than I, although not by much - not enough to insulate me from fear. It's easier to rationalize the deaths of the oldest old, the patients who have children and grandchildren clustered around their beds telling stories and saying "She had a good life" even as they wipe away the tears. People my own age - now that I'm here in my 50s - harder, much harder, but still not as bad as the ever-increasing number who are younger than I am.
As much as I try to stay fully present, I know I build walls - barriers to help me keep a bit of distance on the sheer terror and pain of watching younger people die. I need to feel enough to stay connected with the patients and families, but not so much that I am overwhelmed. The balance can be hard to strike. Essays like this show me a little of the private lives and jokes and loves of the people we call "patients", and help me pull a few bricks out of that wall.
I hope Rebecca finds a moment of peace today.