Welcome to the Club

Welcome.

You might be wondering why you’re here, who I am, and how long you’ll be here. In fact, I’m sure you have many questions. Some of them I can answer, some of them I can’t, and some of them are questions we both have. I do know that we’ll most probably be together for a long time so we might as well get used to the idea that you’ll be staying here a while. Don’t worry, you’ll be quite comfortable and safe during your time with me. It’ll all be ok.

When I first saw you, I had an idea that you might be staying with me but, as these things tend to go, I wasn’t quite sure and I certainly wasn’t paying attention to the fact that I’d be carrying you with me from that point on. You see, when we met, I was quite busy and my mind was whirring about as fast as it could go. I worked hard and you probably did too I assume. I’ll probably never know much about your experiences before and during our first meeting, but I’ll get to know a lot about you in the months, years, and possibly decades to come. You see, I’ll be seeing you a lot from now on, the way I see the others I carry with me. You’re in good company and are not alone, so you might as well get to know some of the others you share your space with. Perhaps you can compare experiences and blend them together. That is always an interesting time.

I realized you had stayed with me last night when I tried to sleep. You popped up and kept me awake like so many of the others tend to do. You did a good job at filling my head with vivid imagery. The sounds, smells, and other memories you gave me were a nice touch. You’ll make a good addition to the others you share your space with in my head. You’re welcome to pop up and make me remember you in my quiet moments when I want to be thinking about anything else. Feel free to speak to me when I’m trying to sleep, or to take me back to our first meeting when I catch a whisper of a noise similar to what I heard when we first met. Your memory will easily make me get a faraway look in my eyes during otherwise happy moments I’m experiencing. Thoughts of you will make people look at me and ask me if I’m ok. Your echo will help shape my life and color my experiences going forward so please don’t hold back. You won’t be going away no matter how much I want you to anyway, so don’t worry about being kind.

Forgive me for not telling you sooner but if you hadn’t realized this by now, you’re a ghost. It was rude of me not to let you know that right off the bat but I’m afraid that the real you died that day we met and you’re an echo of that day that I carry with me. I’m simply a paramedic who tried to save you. It wasn’t my fault that you died and I didn’t cause your death, but I did do every single thing in my power to try and keep you from dying like you did. The others you’re with are all ghosts too. All of you stayed with me for some reason. There have been some that have come and then gone, some that have stayed since we met, and some that I fear will never leave. I see all of you in my mind’s eye just as vividly as the first time I met you. I remember you clearly and none of you will leave me alone. That’s ok though, because years ago I decided to make peace with the fact that you and your fellow ghosts exist in my memories and I’ve decided that carrying you with me doesn’t have to be a terrible burden. I mean, if you’re all going to be here anyway we might as well not have to hate each other. If I promise to treat your memory with the respect you deserve maybe you can give me a break every now and then and stop staring back at me from the darkness at night or looking at me from behind the mirror.

I didn’t cause your death. That terrible thing that happened to you wasn’t my fault. I tried to stop it. I rushed in, worked every bit as hard as I could, and failed. I’ll keep telling myself that every time you surface for a visit. Maybe one day I’ll believe it. I can’t think of anything I could have done better, but medical knowledge and my own experiences teach me new things every day. Maybe the new CPR and life support skills I know now could have saved you then. Maybe if I had done a few things differently you wouldn’t have to haunt me the way you do. I swear to you that at the time we met I did the absolute best I could do, but I suppose the doubts I have are part of the reasons you’re here with me.

Then again, there are ghosts I know where I have no doubts at all. There really doesn’t seem to be any reason to why I carry you all like I do.

All I know is that I chose to be a caregiver. I chose to be a paramedic. I chose to spend my life carrying ghosts with me.

And now you’re here too.

Welcome to club.