Moment of Silence

Saturday evening’s events, as reported in the Chicago Tribune…

“A 6-year-old boy and his mother were killed Saturday in a multivehicle wreck on Lake Shore Drive that injured two other people, authorities said. The Chicago boy was taken to Lurie Children’s Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 6:21 p.m., according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office. He had not been identified as of Saturday night.The boy’s mother was pronounced dead at the scene, a police news release said.”

Saturday evening’s events, as experienced by a chaplain…

When the horrific happens, I am most thankful for two things:

  1. The promise that in life and in death and in the worst possible scenario, we belong to God.
  2. The reality that I have the honor of working with one of the Top 10 pediatric medical teams in the nation.

After the pronouncement of time of death occurred, a holy hush filled the room as we all reverently looked at the clock and then at the face of that beautiful child. It was as if a moment of silence had been declared and all were observing it in complete sincerity.

When reality and time regained their sense of control, motion returned to the room. Documentation and details resumed. During that time a nurse requested I say a prayer aloud for the beautiful boy we were gathered around. I asked the God of all life to welcome this child home in the name of God’s child, who said, “Let the little children come to me.”

As the Emergency Department and Trauma Team gathered to debrief the situation, and prepared themselves and each other for speaking with family members, I was certain there would not be a single debate as to whether or not, “We did everything we could,” was 100% true. In my observations, that fine group of folks gave their all-mind, body, soul, heart, talent, and years of training-to do absolutely everything they could to attempt to save the boy’s life.

Throughout the hours of comforting each other as staff and with the family, there were two things running through my mind during each spoken and unspoken conversation:

  1. A verse from The Beatles’ Let It Be, “And when the night is cloudy, there is still a light that shines on me, shine until tomorrow, let it be. I wake up to the sound of music, Mother Mary comes to me, speaking words of wisdom, let it be.”
  2. A quotation from Erma Bombeck, “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, ‘I used everything you gave me.’”

Today as the sun was once again over Lake Michigan, and life was indeed going on, I stared out one of the windows of the hospital praying for each person involved in all aspects of the accident. And while I watched the boats go by, I was reminded in the dawning of another day that life is indeed “a gift to be received with gratitude and a task to be pursued with courage.”

(Quotation from The Confession of 1967)

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One comment

  1. Using up talents, knowing that life is “a gift to be received with gratitude and a task to be pursued with courage”. I have not yet attended the death of a child. I did have the grace and blessing of attending the families after the death of a loved one in my Clinical Pastoral Education experience this summer. Darkness, grief, sorrow–all a part of the immediate response.
    Later–memories, settling into a new reality, beginning of remembrance of lives lived, joys and light. You settle these experiences into a liminal space, open and broad enough to contain whole experience.

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