Today was a sad day. I was minding my business at work (meaning I had just settled into to a routine case on an older, healthy child – patient well cared for, surgery started, charting done). I decided to scroll through my email on my phone. I opened an email from a friend from residency to read the terrible words that went something like “we wanted to let you all know that we lost our precious son suddenly…” At first, I thought it was a sick joke. But no, these amazing people suddenly, inexplicably lost their healthy toddler child. They woke up with him and later that day he died. It is UNIMAGINABLE (I capitalize because I want to shout in anger). He is GONE. They are ALONE in their house now.

I cannot even contemplate the pain. I had trouble concentrating at work. It was a difficult day. I had to keep bringing myself back to the present by reminding myself that I was currently responsible from someone else’s precious child. When I did this I could focus and get through my day.

By oh my, oh my…I hurt for them. I ache for them. I try to imagine what it would be like and I can’t because even imagining it is just too painful. And frightening. It reminds me that it could happen to any of us at any time. One day life is happy and positive and the next everything changes. I think about this often in the context of difficult medical diagnoses: “The day BEFORE my child had leukemia and our lives changed forever”. But I have not applied such thinking to sudden losses such as this.

Such a tragedy sends me into a tail spin of thought about what I am doing in my life. Am I spending my time in the right way? Am I present enough when I am with my family? Am I truly cherishing the fleeting childhoods that are unfolding in my home? Should I be working more to help other children who need care? I don’t know. Because, really, no matter what we do or how we spend our time, there will always come a day “before” and a day “after”.

I guess the reminder is to focus on how we are spending our time right NOW, as that is truly all that is important; all that we have. Love your babies tonight, my friends. It suddenly feels like sadness could be lurking around every corner…