Heavy and Weightless

“Matty? Matty, what is it? Oh my God, what’s wrong?” …


Her mollifying voice glanced off my shoulders from behind before entering my ears. It was the middle of the night and prior to my current situation of being seated on the edge of our bed, we had been sleeping blissfully intervolved with one-another. But now, now I was seated on the smallest edge of the bed, staring down at my hand and forearm with absolute agony and obfuscation. I had been sleeping but my breathing would lie to you and have you think I had just been running. The gleam of sweat to my skin would perpetuate that same fallacy.


“Matty – talk to me. Baby, what’s going on?” I ignored her. But, not out of intent. I had no words to speak. Odd for someone who now uses so many…


A nightmare; I had just had a nightmare. One that forced adrenaline to precipitately flood my veins and cause cessation to my rest. I was now panting while seated within a darkened room on the verge of sliding from the bed to the floor, unable to satiate the concern of my girlfriend’s worry and perplexity.


My dream was not of malice fabrication of a sinister subconscious. It was a recall of memory that boasted finite detail. Details of a memory that hours prior had been my reality…


On a sunlit afternoon in the middle of July, I was nearing the end of a shift. I was working with a medic named, Rob. He was a good medic. Had a wealth of experience and a humility that made him relatable. We’d had a decent shift so far. The sun was shining and for the most part, everything that we had responded to had worked out in the best possible way. We shared some good ‘front of the ambulance conversation’ of varying topics that ranged from: which actress was cheat-worthy, and that our spouses would understand if we did, to favorite type of beer, onward to the weirdest psych patient we had ever seen within our respective careers. It was a good day. It really was…


‘Ding, Ding, Ding’… The tones dropped; we were getting a call. The first thing to permeate from the screen of our centre console (MDT), was the address. We were close. Rob flipped the switch and began the cumbersome waltz of a U-turn at the intersection. An ambulance is not exactly agile. Having successfully pointed us towards the right direction, he began to accelerate. Before long there was another chime indicating that we had an update. That update not only permeated the screen, but it reached from it and wrapped its hands around my throat and began to squeeze the moisture from it – ‘3 mon old. Male. Unresponsive. Mom sts he is limp’. It was telling us that we were responding to a three-month-old baby boy, and that he was unresponsive in his mother’s arms. Calls involving kids always stiffens your hair a little.



It also quickens your breathing. Glosses your skin. Makes it look as though you had just been running… but that would be a lie, wouldn’t it? …


The only thing running were my thoughts and recall of protocols while enroute. Rob drove that thing like a fucking race-car. An increasing growl of the engine mimicked our determination to get there… And get there we did.


We pulled onto a side street that was lined with inner-city low-rise apartment buildings. Varying shades of brick color and pattern were the hallmarks of this street. Other than that, they all looked the pretty-much same. Our heads swivelled without restriction of anatomical norm’s in search of our patient. I felt the ambulance jar to a halt. Rob was looking out the side window of the driver-side towards a decaying orange brick building. The address on our MDT matched what was etched to the front of the building. This must be the place. Both, Rob and I dismounted without verbal cue from one another. I hastily ran to the side of the ambulance, grabbing gear and readying myself to head into the unknown. With monitors, airways, meds and everything in-between, Rob and I walked briskly towards the aging apartment building. Before we even entered the building, the foyer doors exploded open, revealing the panic of a grief-stricken mother. In her hands she held the smallest human-like being that I had ever seen in my life. It appeared three-minutes-old, not three-months…


Her wailing sobs are something you’d expect to hear from aquatic life in an underwater documentary, not from a grown person. They were painfully loud.


I hate to admit this, as it is something that only bad medic’s do, but as she came nearer, the world around me began to blur, almost fading to black. All I could see was this trembling woman and a lifeless little-man of infinitesimal proportion in front of me. Tunnel vision. I had tunnel vision. Within that narrowed field of view, I could see that she (the mother) was extending her arms to hand me the child. Almost hypnotically, I dropped the bags and extended my arms in readiness to receive the package… I took the baby from her and was now holding him with my left hand and forearm. Had I not been looking directly at what I was holding, I would swear to you that I was carrying nothing at all. He was so small that he weighed almost nothing. But you know what? He remains one of the heaviest things that I have ever held in my life…


After receiving the lifeless body of this three-month-old baby boy, I turned and raced towards the back of the ambulance. I could see everything now, almost as if to be watching from a birds-eye view. I could see myself, and all the other medics and firefighters, feverishly jostling for room to work on this most precious of things.


The baby would die. Nothing we did worked. All of our equipment was too big next to this slight little boy. Even the stuff designed for newborns. He would be pronounced dead at the hospital. A mother’s life would be shattered. And my shift would simply end. And I would go home.


Rob and I never spoke about that call. Never. And that night when I came home to my house and beautiful woman, I felt okay. Almost as if it hadn’t happened at all. It was there, in the back of my mind all evening, sure, but I was able to keep it dormant. All I said to her (my spouse) was that I had a bad call, but I’d be okay. And for the most part, I was. I was able to laugh and play. Joke and tickle while cooking dinner. Cuddle and watch television afterwords. Fuck, and then encapsulate her within my arms whilst falling asleep. And then, sleep…


While sleeping though, I began to feel something. It tickled my forearm at first but not in a pleasing nor invited way. The tickle soon felt clammy and displeasing. As the sensation continued to tattoo itself to my flesh, my minds-eye began to play the video of the day. A movie from hell. In my sleep, I not only watched it happen all over again, I lived it. I was right back outside that fucking building holding the dead, weightless boy. One repetition was too many, my arm began to burn. Heavy and weightless.


“Matty? Matty, what is it? Oh my God, what’s wrong?” …


I had thought that I had just had a bad dream and had woken up and sat on the edge of the bed; turns out there was more… Amber told me that I had woken her up when she heard me moaning from my side of the bed. She said that it was incoherent at first, but as I began to breathe more rapidly, she not only witnessed me tensing my arm, but she heard me say, “it’s a kid. It’s a fucking kid. Shit… it’s a fucking kid… don’t you fucking die! …” She said she touched me on the shoulder and I jumped from the bed and flailed into a seated position on the smallest edge of the mattress.


This morning, when I woke, there was no euphonious voice of comfort from behind me. It was just me, the edge of a bed, and a befuddling gaze towards my left hand and forearm that held an invisible remnant of a little boy – this was a nightmare. A nightmare I have had before. The same nightmare I had some years ago. Although sinister, it is not at all a fabrication of the subconscious. It is real. It is a memory. A memory of finite detail. Sounds, smells, clattering voices and touch… I relived all of it. I looked as if I had just been running… but that would be a lie, wouldn’t it? …


It’s a hell-of-a-thing, having held an almost weightless boy. It becomes even more hellacious when that little boy is to be the heaviest thing I carry with me today… As heavy as the day I met him… maybe more-so…

5 thoughts on “Heavy and Weightless

Add yours

  1. M,

    Much heavier, and the exhaustion of it all surpasses any marathon. You do this all the time. Write these horrible memories into a God given gift from different hells.

    Peace and respect, and gratitude


      1. I still have your email; you have been a huge motivator and support for me, when the book comes out, I’d like to send you one. So, when it’s closer, I will email you for a mailing address or P.O. box.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. If I told you once, I told you a million times. I calls ’em as I sees ’em. And you have what it takes to motivate and provide support to countless others. Which is what this book is gonna do. And the next one too. The one you write. Because it’s who you are.
        As for that book you’re gonna send to me, you best sign it!


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