It was a bustling night in the Children’s Emergency Department. I had just started my weekend shift as the Child Life Specialist on call. A Child Life What, you ask? I was 2 years into my new career, offering psycho-social support to patients and families for various emergency procedures like stitches, rehydration, enemas, casts, and the occasional resuscitation. This particular night, I moved deftly from room to room offering my Yoda like wisdom. The Force was running through me. And it was strong. 

“Molly, we have a patient with autism who needs to drink this solution STAT. Can you get him to do this?”

“Can I? Just you watch”.

After using a gentle, zero eye contact version of the Force (and a really cool twisty straw I knew he would appreciate) the solution was drunk and he would, alas, be saved.

“Molly, we have a teen girl who is freaking out over an IV placement and we don’t want to sedate her. Can you work your magic, please?”

“Stand back boys! Watch, and learn.”

Within 30 minutes the IV was placed. 

I had earned the nickname “The Child Whisperer” and it was only 7pm – I still had 3 more hours left on the clock! 

While heading into the next patient room, the chorus of ED beepers went off in unison. “PNB ETA 5” (incoming patient is pulseless and not breathing; 5 minutes away). The entire ED space gets eerily quiet as the staff gets ready for an arrival as such. I imagine it’s similar to what members of a professional sports team do in preparation for The Big Game. There is a quiet, laser focused attention by each individual, and her particular role on the team.  Within minutes, the medics came wheeling in with full CPR motion in swing. The parents were trailing anxiously behind. Into the trauma room they went, with the Force lingering at a close distance. The doctors and nurses worked tirelessly to save the girl, but it was her time to go. Witnessing the death of a human being leaves a heaviness in the air. The love and desperation of those left behind, and the grief of those who could not save a life are like dark, rain drenched clouds hovering just out of reach.


I joined the nurse in the room as she cleaned the young girl’s body. It was my role to bring any siblings through to view the body and say goodbye. I was there to answer questions about why the patient looked they way she did (these are bruises from the CPR, this tube was for special medicine) and answer any clarifying questions (no she did not feel any pain, no she did not do anything wrong, no you did not do anything wrong to cause this either, etc). When that was done, I was to get hand molds and prints for the family, and offer the first of the grief materials. As I was finishing up the hand prints, the social worker I worked in tandem with approached me. “Molly, we have an abuse case in room 7. The child needs to be removed from the home. The police are coming to escort the father away soon.” 

I finished my work with the young girl whose spirit was now free from her body, and made may way into the room of another girl whose spirit was trapped inside her abused body. We sat in room 7 and quietly played games, while her father was guided away in hand cuffs. After a little time, the CPS worker came to bring her to a shelter for the night.

The Force had revealed its fullest self to me within those 11 hours of my 10 hour shift. I numbly made my way to my car. The amount of joy and pride in conjunction with the pain of death and abuse reverberated in my body like a flaming hot roller coaster. The vibration of a guttural yell while allowing tears to stream down my face were the only immediate release to the rocky sensations I felt. 

Two girls, similar ages. Both lost.

Everyone has a story. The special boy who drank from a funky straw has a story. As does the young girl who passed, and the one who was taken away.

They are not my stories. But, they are mine to witness.

Just before pulling out of my parking space, Yoda whispered his final words of wisdom for the night:

“Story keeper, you are. Tell stories, you must”. 

+ Leave a comment