Tasting Autumn

a reminder of what’s to come… (new england, 2008)

Oct 2008
This year, I experience my first real autumn. 

A cool breeze came by many weeks ago.  It carried a scent of allure and warmth, as it teased the green trees and left a few branches blushing.  And before I knew it, my familiar walk along Thoreau path had become unrecognizable. 

“What’s so great about autumn anyway?” I wondered.  It’s just a bunch of trees changing color. 

~ ~ ~

(day 1) 

What, or whom, breathes life into a human being?
I took my patient’s blood pressure again and again, and I kept getting the same low numbers.  55/40.  That meant the blood circulating around in his body was really weak.  His heart was failing.  His kidneys too.

And eventually, he would die.  But the question was…when?

Occasionally, I would walk by the room to see him a mess. Literally. His head would be propped up on his elbow, his body curled on his side in a fetal position. Then sometimes, his legs would be hanging off the bed.  He had pulled out every IV and almost every tube that was attached to him.  He was still kickin’.


(day 2)

“Mr. A…are you awake? Can you hear me? Wake up!” I yelled at my patient as I rubbed his chest.

He couldn’t hear me.  His eyes were wide open, motionless, not even a blink.  His mouth hung ajar, his breathing slower than before.

“Mr. A! Mr. A? Wake up!!” I yelled again.  I shook him more forcefully.

No answer, again.

Was he dying?  Had he already left his body spiritually?  Was there anything left in him, other than a pacemaker sending signals to a weak heart?

I looked up, towards the direction my patient was staring .  Was he looking at something?

And in the room, at that very moment, I felt the seasons change.

~ ~ ~

Along Thoreau Path, I heard a child’s laughter.  Giggling and twirling underneath the tree’s green and yellow branches. 

The crisp wind blew, brushing off the old, unwanted yellow leaves from the tree branches and onto the earth.

However, the dry, dead leaves- the leaves that most people would have raked and thrown away- were the very leaves she wanted. 

~ ~ ~

“What?” my patient woke up, finally.

I sighed a sigh of relief.

“Take your medicine,” I instructed.

He opened his mouth, swallowed his medicine, then returned to sleep.

(day 3)

I had a different patient assignment today.  For which, I was a bit glad.

“Mr. A just passed away,” his nurse came and told me.

“Really? Did you sense it coming?” I inquired.

“Yeah.. his breathing became sparse, and his body very cold. But it was peaceful.  He left very peacefully,”  she said.

I took a peek inside his room.  His lifeless body lay on the bed, but he didn’t look that much different from before.  I inhaled a deep breath and walked out the room.  The other nurses took his body down to the morgue.

I did not offer my help this time.

~ ~ ~

“I only like the yellow ones,” she exclaimed to her grandfather. 

She continued scouring the pile of old fallen leaves, picking out just the yellow ones.  And with each leaf she recovered, her eyes sparkled with joy, splendor, and hope.

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9 thoughts on “Tasting Autumn

  1. sorry to hear about mr.A. sigh, this is such a gloomy autumn post. autumn is actually a favorite season of mine. though the leaves are dying as they change color, they revive a certain glee in many hearts with their charming colors. i hope mr.A left with a certain charming color about him for many to remember him by.

    • aww. although it wasn’t intended as a gloomy post, i can see how stories about death and dying can feel gloomy. death is a hard topic to write/talk about, and i know that most people aren’t exposed to it frequently, so when it does happen, it’s hard.

      i like how you put it though.. that with the change of colors,it can bring glee. i too hope that when he died, that he found glee. thank you for such an eloquent metaphor. =)

  2. I can’t tell which posts are real or written. =P Love this post..man reading this makes me recall the memories of my grandma when she was passing away in the hospital. lifeless but she passed peacefully. My dad wanted me to go into nursing but I was not courageous to step into the waters..studying is one thing but the sight of blood, the smell of flesh..Kudos and respect to you!

    • to give clarification, all my posts are real. =) names and details are changed for confidentiality purposes but otherwise its all nonfiction. =)

      i’m sad to hear about your grandma passing.. how old were you at the time? it’s never easy to lose someone, death is always difficult no matter the age.

      ahhahaa. yeah, some people are more/less sensitive to blood and fluids than others. =) thanks for the encouragement. =)

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