“The magic lasts only a couple of minutes. You’ve got to be ready, here it comes.”
Dr. Tom Robertson said to himself as he stopped to catch his breath astride his bicycle.
The sun rose from the horizon. The grey and melancholy from the night before was edged out by an orange and red glow. The sun’s arrival was at once uplifting and mesmerizingly beautiful, even heroic. Streaks of golden lines contoured the edges of the clouds theatrically. It was majestic.
In that moment, Tom could forgive himself for suspending a lifetime of skepticism towards religion as a higher power was there. One that he would willingly surrender to for no mortals were capable of such feats.
The moment was brief however, too brief for Tom to do any of that. In a few eye blinks, the job was done and the sky was lit. It was back to work. He needed to head to his hospital.
Tom would arrive at the hospital by 7am to learn which of his patients had died overnight. Most patients died at that peculiar hour in the early morning when humanity tried to rise from their sleep. It was the time of the day when our arteries were at its narrowest and our blood at its thickest. Tom would examine each case and then put his signature on their death certificates.
There were few things that doctors hate more than losing a patient. It was a slap in the face. It represented a battle that they had lost. However, after decades of treating patients, Tom was mechanical, detached and a consummate professional. He had treated everybody equally.
Tom stared at the paperwork on his desk. The name “Peter McKinnon” was printed on the top of the new patients admission stack.
Tom jumped at the name and nervously dug into the details. He checked the date of birth, address and the diagnosis. It was indeed his Peter, his childhood best friend. He had pancreatic cancer.
“Oh Peter. Why didn’t you tell me?” Memories of the times that they spent together flooded his head. Tom had adored Peter. Peter was a good size bigger than Tom and had taken on the role of Tom’s protector from the first day.
Half a century later, the table turned. It’s Tom’s turn to guard Peter in his hospital. Tom wanted desperately to save his friend. It was his turn to repay his childhood hero.
The next piece of paper was titled “Advance Care Plan”. Half way down the page had the words “DO NOT RESUSCITATE” in bold.
Resuscitation was the potent sunrise that could keep the enemy at bay, at least for another day.
To let your best friend die without lifting a hand would be the ultimate betrayal.
“I can’t have this.” Tom thought to himself as he ripped that page out of the patient file.
To be trusted to execute your best friend’s last wish would be the ultimate honour.
“Fuck.” Tom put the crumbled page back into the file.