We're both going to be left with scars, but mine seem unfair. Unfair to you, not to me. I don't have the right to feel this way, to feel the anger, the frustration, the sadness and injustice of it all. After all, he wasn't my child.
My children were safely at home, sharing popcorn and a movie with friends.
Your child was being roughly manhandled by ambulance crews desperately trying and miserably failing to save his life.
We must have seemed so cold to you, so callous, calculated, so damned professional. Sticking tubes down his throat, needles in his scrawny arms, pounding on his delicate, fragile chest. But we're human too.
At the hospital, after we'd walked back out of your lives, we shed a tear, shared a tear. Some of us outwardly, some torn from the inside out, some showing a passive face, hiding the emotion that was battling to break through the dam.
As we worked to save his life, nothing else mattered. But afterwards, there are questions, doubts, replays of every single thing that happened go through my mind. Could we have done something differently? Could we have worked faster, better, harder? Would it have made a difference?
The team at the hospital told us that we did everything that we could. They came out to the ambulance to find a saloon full of sombre faces in green uniforms. They said what they said, and left to go back to talk to you, a conversation so much worse. I know we did all we could. I know that we couldn't have done anything better. I know that nothing we could have done would have saved his life. I don't expect you to feel the same.
It's never right for a child to die. Not through illness or trauma, neither by accident nor malice. You know that better than I, as you sit and try to come to terms with a tragedy so deep that the scars will never entirely fade, whilst I go home and hold my children closer.
At home, I tried to leave your child behind. "Just another day at the office," I'd tell myself. I failed at that too.
Instead, I sat and cried as I polished my boots clean of all the scars of that call, feeling guilty that I'm erasing any physical memory I have of your son.
I know that you can't erase the memory. Won't erase it. All I can hope is that the memories that linger aren't the ones I have, of a lifeless child, bereft of hope. I can only pray that the memories you keep are the good ones, the happy times, the playful child full of life.
And that in time, your scars heal, if only a little.