The car’s hum was drowned out by blasting music as the stone grey Range Rover stood at a glaring red light. As they waited for its change, they sang along to one of their favorite songs, much like they found themselves doing whenever it came on. “Remember the day, I set you free. I told you, you could always count on me darling!”, Tomas sang dramatically as he looked over at the love of his life. Her eyes smiling back at him as her mouth let slight laughter escape it before joining in herself. “From that day on, I made a vow. I’ll be there when you want me! Some way, some how!”, her smooth rich voice outdid his but he loved that very fact. They would lie in bed and he would ask her to sing to him, anything and everything just to take in that voice of hers. Likely their neighbors weren’t as welcoming of an audience, especially during those early morning live sessions. “'Cause baby there ain’t no mountain high enough! Ain’t no valley….”, their voices now melting together as her hands carressed circles on her protruding belly that was currently draped in a long floral sundress. It was one of her favorites but Tomas loved to comment on how it reminded him of one of his mother’s old couches. Though he was only teasing. He loved it on her and the couch, it was one of his favorites growing up. If their kid didn’t know the words to multiple songs straight out the womb, he’d be surprised. They did, after all, sing more to it than actually speak. She said that music evoked emotion unlike anything else could. A song could express exactly how she was feeling better than she could herself.
Red was replaced by green and his foot pushed on the gas pedal, sending them into the intersection and headed in the direction of their home. White light flooded the car and blinded them. His head turned to the passenger side, where the light pierced in. In a slight moment, he watched her lift her arms up to block from the glare. His hands remained glued to the steering wheel and gripped it diligently, afraid to lose control. The voice he had just been savoring, frightened him as she let out a deafening scream. Before getting a chance to react, the car ravaged her side and changed their trajectory. Tomas’ head hit his window and then flew forward onto the steering wheel, leaving him unconscious. The horn flatlined and now drowned out the words to their favorite song, “If you ever need a helping hand. I’ll be there on the double, just as fast as I can….”.
“He’s regaining consciousness”, a paramedic called out to the driver as they sped to the hospital. An identical rig led the way to UCLA Medical Center, the hospital Tomas worked at. “Sir, can you hear me?”. His vision was semi-blurry, the lights and colors blending together. He had difficulty focusing on the words, the question being asked. Fingers filled his palm, “Sir, squeeze my hand if you can understand what I am saying”. His own hand gripped as hard as he could onto the fingers. “My wife…baby ok?”, pushed out a bit groggily. “Your wife is in the ambulance in front of us. We’re on our way to UCLA Med. We are nearly there”. With his neck in a collar, he was forced to stare at the ceiling as his heart raced thinking of his wife and their baby. The ambo came to a halt and the doors flew open, doctors there ready to get them into the hospital. “What do we got?!”, called out a familiar voice. “Male. Late 20s. Vehicle collision. Drunk driver t-boned them in an intersection. Patient has a hematoma to the back of the head and a facial laceration above the left eyebrow. Exhibiting signs of concussion and placed on a c-collar but doesn’t seem to have any spinal injuries upon further examination. Also, his arm seems like it has a possible break. We think that…”. “Tomas? This is one of ours!”. The doctor cut off the paramedic once she got a look at the patient’s face. “His wife is in the other rig”. Concern seeped in and was visible in the doctor’s expression but she quickly pushed it away. There was no time for that.
“I’m fine. Help my wife. Make sure the baby is okay!”. His nerves were getting the best of him as the lack of control was overwhelming. He chest felt as if something was laying on top of it. The pressure was becoming too much. “Please, just help her…take care of her!”, he yelled out as they carted through the front doors of the ED. The charge nurse recognized his voice as it filled an unusually quiet department. “Dr. Carrion?”, she called out as she walked over. “Put him in bay 2!”, she ordered. Before they could whisk him away, his fingers found the end of her scrubs and clung onto them desperately. They needed to listen, to actually hear him. “My wife and the baby. Focus on them. Please…”, his tone pleaded and his eyes followed suit. They were begging her and she felt it. “Dr. Isaacs you’re in Bay 3 with Mrs. Carrion. She’s 8 months pregnant. Let’s get a read on the baby immediately!”, she looked back at Tomas who had not let go of her. “We’ve got her. I promise. Now let them look at you. I’ll give you news once I know”, her hand covered his before his grip loosened and he was taken off into a separate room to be looked at.
As they began examining him, a symphony of machines began going off next door. Though still dizzy, Tomas used whatever strength he had to steady himself up and rush towards the door of his own room. “We’ve got to perform an emergency c-section. There is too much stress on the baby and we need to get her out of there asap or we lose them both! Page the obstetrician that we are on our way up now”. He tried to fight against the doctor and nurse who were tasked with his care but they held him back as the bed with his wife on it rushed by them. As they held onto him he called out in her direction, pleading with them to save her. To save them both. His words were filled with anguish. He had never felt so powerless. He’d work in these situations and very rarely lost control of his emotions. This was different. This was his world and it was the closest he had come to losing it. The thought of having to choose between his wife and the life they had created together entered his head. It hurt that it was even a thought he had to grapple with. His vision became blurry again, this time filling with tears as his legs gave out and he collapsed on the cold sterile floor. The doctor caught him but yelled out for assistance from another, “We need a hand in here!”.
When Tomas came to, a consistent ringing had now taken residency in his ear. Releasing a groan, he attempted to reposition himself when a sharp pain shot through his arm earning an additional grunt. As he looked down, he was fitted with a sling. Based on the level of pain and only being in a common sling, he self diagnosed that it was just a fracture. Looking directly ahead, he could see his reflection right back at him, fresh stitches above his eyebrow. Before he could speak, a nurse walked into the room. He read her face, she looked caught off guard. Not expecting to have to confront a conscious Tomas. When he went to speak, she stopped him. “I’ll be right back with your doctor”, the last part of the sentence coming out when she was already out of the room. Truth be told, she knew what he was going to ask and she wouldn’t be the one forced to share the news. In her place now stood a familiar face. A familiar, yet somber face. “How are you feeling? Are you in pain? We can give you something for it….”. “Where’s my wife? And…and the baby? How are they?”. His throat started to constrict. It was as if he wanted to know yet his body was trying to protect him from asking the question. “The baby was delivered successfully through a c-section. Slightly early but looking healthy. I can take you up to visit in a bit”. He let out a breathe of relief and quietly thanked god for his child’s safe keeping. “Tomas…she fought to keep the baby going through emergency c-section but once the delivery happened, she crashed. We couldn’t bring her back after she coded. She’s gone. I am so sorry…”.
The sense of relief he had felt was fleeting and the room around him felt like it was spinning. “What? No, that can’t…no that didn’t happen…”. He had given this news to families before. That their loved one didn’t make it. It was one of the hardest parts of the job. The part that almost made you not want to be a doctor because telling someone that their loved one was gone almost felt like an admission of failure. Failure to do the absolute best at keeping them alive. This thought matured as he did, but it never got easy to share. “No no no. Please god no!”, he yelled followed by a whispered, “no….”. His body began to convulse viciously as he let out tortured sobs. He cried not only for her but for their child who would have to grown up without knowing their mother. Cried for a life that would now experience that void of the beautiful person, beautiful voice, he fell in love with.