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America, December 28, 2007

Goodbye Bernard, May You Rest in Peace

We did our best, but it was your time

dc ymca
Tonight I kissed a man. I put my lips to his without hesitation, without thought. I didn't think of the blood on his face, only of pinching his nose. Of exhaling with force into his mouth, of filling his lungs with my breath.

All the while, my beloved Amy pushed against his chest with rhythmic thrusts, compressing his heart to make it pump. Pushing hard, she only stopped to feel for pulse. Faint. Gone. Faint again.

She, the medical professional, the physician assistant in George Washington University Hospital's intensive care unit. Me the husband who heard the crash in the YMCA National Capitol men's locker room.

At first, I thought it was just someone slamming their locker door. It happens often, so I didn't give the noise a second thought. But as I went to turn in my key, a man came out of the locker room saying there was a passed out patron on the floor, not breathing.

In I ran to check on him. Yep, out cold, labored breathing, blood form a head wound pooling on the floor. I was out of my element - I didn't know what to do, but I knew who did. Amy, the medical professional, was downstairs waiting for me.

With a dash and a yell, she appeared at Bernard's side and we rolled him over to start CPR. She compressed, I breathed, and we tried to revive him. He breathed on his own a few times, with a pulse here and there, but he never came back. His eyes never focused. He was on his way before the DC Firemen arrived.

They took over, in a measured response. He had left us, and they knew it. They tried, they took him to the hospital, GWU even, where the doctors tried too. But it was Bernard's time to go. And so he went.

Goodbye Bernard. Rest in peace. I knew you only in your last moments, when I passed you in the gym tonight and then as I tried to fill your lungs, but you went quick. You went peaceful. And you went with love at your side.

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