“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

“Time of death: 4:57am.” This was my first experience losing a patient.

Around 4am, I was falling asleep, despite the constant din of the Emergency Room, when the Code Blue alarm sounded. I dashed out behind my team, and when we arrived, it was like a rogue wave during high tide: Trained experts flooded into the patient’s room, and those who couldn’t fit tiptoed in the dimly lit hallway to catch the action. My heart skipped a beat, stunned; I knew him. Last week, he was cracking jokes at my pathetic Spanish. But now, an unnatural fluorescence filled every crevice of the room, highlighting his naked, unresponsive body.

I retreated into the furthest back corner, trying to understand. This is how the patient would die: with strangers pounding on his chest in a futile effort to create life from death. I felt sick.

Forty-five torturous minutes later, the time of death was noted. Seconds later, the room cleared, as though the rogue wave had crashed and retreated back into the sea, its job done. I found a supply room and allowed myself to cry and cry and cry.

Death, I know, is a natural part of life that all doctors must expect. I admire the way we fearlessly fight for life, but then accept death. As I enter a career in medicine, I hope to never lose the empathy and love I felt that day for my patient. To me, medicine is still a magical superpower that allows us to make the sick healthy—and that’s why I view caring for patients as such a gift, a privilege. “Isn’t it pretty to think so?” –Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises

— Anjali Thakkar