Thursday, May 9, 2013

Left Behind

The hospital is clear, but not without losses. Only a handful of people took injuries during the long fight with the undead, mostly because we were being as careful as possible to avoid it, but inside the hospital things were a little different. Not a single man or woman died on the field, but the simple physics of sunlight did more damage than a swarm of the undead. 

I've been in that hospital quite a few times over the years. I remember very clearly how warm the rooms facing the sun can be. Someone in there had the idea--a good one, in my opinion--to set up the nursery as far from the fighting as possible. The top floor, then, as distant as you could want. There were enough children, ranging in age from newborn to toddlers, that it became difficult for the two person team to manage getting between the five rooms set up for the kids on a regular schedule. 

The sun came out sometime while they were making food for the little ones. The room with the newborns in it got hot. Really hot, and no air conditioning to cool them. We don't know if there was something wrong with the baby to start out with or if perhaps he was dehydrated, but one of the newborns succumbed to the heat. He died. 

I was one of the people out there fighting to keep those people safe. It felt at times like I was sweating blood with the effort, and even though in my head I know we saved two hundred people from starvation and eventual death, the terrible wails of that little boy's mother make me feel like a failure. If only we had been faster, maybe there would have been more people to watch the kids. Or maybe they would have been moved closer to the ground floor. A million maybes and could-have-beens. I've been thinking about it for the last day without pause.

In the grande scheme of things that one little boy's life is like the rest of ours: not much. If you look at the world and the survival of humanity, none of us seem especially important or big. We're numbers in the equation, small ones at that. 

But damned if my head and heart don't disagree on that. We're all important. Each of us, the nameless child included, represent small threads in the ragged tapestry that is humankind. It's too easy especially after all we've been through to look at the numbers and coldly say that the losses were minimal. It's a distraction from the truth that a child died. It's a way to allow ourselves ignorance of the real pain his parents are experiencing, the loss leaving them crippled. Thinking about it in real terms with real consequences means we have to consider the implications for every decision we make in the same way. 

Which, when you think about this war, changes things a lot. 

I could say that we scored a great win here, fighting back against the odds to secure the lives of a lot of people. That's not a lie. But my soul is telling me that instead we suffered a narrow defeat, that one lost child a greater tragedy than we are willing to admit to ourselves. I guess it's up to you to decide how you see it, but I've spent too long glossing over the hard reality by looking at the larger picture. I don't judge you for it, only myself, and I find my own motivations wanting.

No comments:

Post a Comment