CPR: When You Fail

CPR, the ability to save someone
A friend, a loved one, a stranger, even an enemy
CPR, the ability to fail in saving someone
A friend, a loved one, a stranger, even an enemy

Almost four years later I still shift in my seat during a movie or TV show when I see CPR performed
I can feel the temperature of the room go up to 400 degrees
My palms gushing sweat

I run across my expired certification card, and my heart skips a beat

This beat, skipped, reminding me of the rapid fire beat in his chest
Your chest, my dad’s chest
100, 200, 300 beats a minute

I’m tilting your head back, desperately trying to breathe life into your lungs
My hands are clasped, pressed to your chest
My arms are pistons, burning with lactid acid and dread as we await the arrival of help

Help doesn’t come before the hummingbird frantic beat suddenly halts to zero

They bring us to a room in the hospital
I know the bombshell the doctor is about to unleash
But I hold out hope

It’s a foolish hope

You are gone before I turn 30
The doctor says the paramedics brought your pulse back briefly
I want to believe this so that it means you didn’t die in my hands
I still hold on to this to lessen my guilt

I didn’t react with lightening quick decisiveness
Like in the movies or TV shows
I didn’t recall the CPR training with flawless precision
Like in the movies or TV shows

But it’s nearly four years later, and the nightmares have mostly stopped
They’re replaced by lucid dreams of new memories between us
Your face and voice as clear as any real memory of you I have

For this I am thankful

Maybe next year I’ll stop shifting in my seat
Maybe next year the room’s temperature will stop rising when I see my reality
played out as fantasy with happy ending

Maybe next year, or the year after, or the decade after
Or never

I do know that your departure wasn’t my fault
At least sometimes I know

– We love you,



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