It’s late, and I’ve been working on the Death Lists for what feels like hours, punctuated by registering patients for the ER and the phone calls by people desperate to say goodnight to ill loved ones.
I’m starting to welcome the distractions.
On the surface, it’s not a terrible task – input a health card number, start the process of closing out a deceased’s file. It’s all a series of numbers. HCN, the date of death (day first, Jess, you’re not in America now) the code for this hospital, and then mark it - EXO or EXP, dependent upon where they died – in this hospital or another, at home or in a cot surrounded by flashing lights and shrilling alarms.
I’m not used enough to the pattern of tab-tab-tab-enter-numbers-tab-tab to ignore the other things written in these brief missives of ended lives. Things keep slowing me up.
Grabbing my attention. Things like DROWNED AT HOME or the shorthand diagnoses of failing health, of PLEURAL EFFUSION to TIA to DIED IN HOSPITAL.
I think if I came upon a name of someone I knew I would weep.
I know that if I keep working at this that in a few weeks I won’t notice so much anymore, that I’ll be hardened, that it won’t be such a shock. And perhaps I should be thinking that these people are at peace now, met their Maker, out of pain.
But tonight, Death is not pretty. Or a release. Tonight, death is paperwork. Tonight, I’ve more than two hours to go.