Emotions can be an extraordinary thing, but they can't keep you going forever.
Evans died some time during the night.
I've been around the clinic off and on during the recent rounds of attacks. When I'm on call to defend the wall, I usually act as a backup triage and first responder. More often than not I end up escorting wounded people to the clinic, and during fights Evans is always there.
Was. Was always there. Never frantic but always full of energy, it didn't matter if he only went off shift ten minutes before. Evans was a warrior as much as any person holding a weapon. His heart was in his work even if his bedside manner could be unfavorably compared to that of an old-timey sea pirate.
Turns out his heart wasn't able to keep up with the needs of this place. Phil and Gabrielle say it looks like it just gave out. Evans was older than most people here. When I think about him serving in Vietnam as a surgeon, I think "Oh, my dad served in 'Nam. He's my dad's age."
Except that he wasn't. Evans was a grown man with eight years or better of college under his belt when he went overseas. That was so many decades ago. A lifetime. For all his stubborn strength and apparently tireless efforts, the old curmudgeon wasn't going to last forever. Seeing him work and hearing him talk you down like an ignorant kid made it hard to remember that behind craggy features and a lean farmer's build was a soul that had seen hard times before most of us were born.
I probably shouldn't say this due to the weird taboo that has grown up around it, but Evans didn't turn. I only mention it because it's almost funny, given how closely he worked with wounds caused by the undead and people affected by the new plague. He died and stayed that way, as if the cranky bastard decided to spit in the face of the disease that killed his world and told it to fuck off in no uncertain terms.
Only time will tell what losing this man will cost us. On a purely practical level we've lost one of our two doctors. Phil has learned a lot and he's damn good...but he's only one man. We're in the middle of several fights. Lives may be lost for the lack. Hard to imagine they won't be.
But in the here and now, I see a legacy that will never be forgotten. Almost all of us have seen him at one time or another. Like many, many others I carry scars that will attest to the end of my life that I'm here because of the dedication and skill of one man. While his loss is keenly felt by all of New Haven--especially the folks who've been here the longest--we can take pride and joy in his life.
Evans grumbled as he sewed up our wounds, set our bones, and even cut into my gut to excise a rogue appendix. For all his rough edges, you'd be hard-pressed to find a person who has been to the clinic who hasn't seen how well he got along with kids. Or the almost fatherly pride he took in checking up on babies he delivered. That first morning after he operated on me, I swear I saw a tear in his eye when he checked my condition.
He was one of the first, and he was one of our best. He treated all of us like incompetent jackasses, but only because he was so competent himself. One minute he'd call you a dumbass, but after hours he was the first to invite you over for dinner or crack open a hidden bottle of very fine scotch.
Doctor. Soldier. Healer. Friend. Evans was all of those things, to me at least. It hurts knowing I won't learn anything from him ever again, to see new ways to make people whole. Nor will I see the glimmer in those blue eyes he got when messing with the heads of new students.
But I can't feel sad for him. He's free of this world now, no longer bound to the needs of so many people and under the pressure of so many fears. There is no uncertainty for Evans, only rest. Richly deserved, to be sure.