I've faced the Grim Reaper before.
More than once, actually.
I've helped people recover from massive heart attacks, when they had no pulse of their own and my skills were part of a carefully orchestrated game plan, including Fire Fighters, Cops, Nurses, Doctors, and Physical Therapists, all of whom played their part as a finely tuned football offensive line... this person moving that way, that other person moving this way, the Quarterback seeing the best option, and ultimately a score -- sending someone home when that someone wasn't alive before the team did their dance.
My partner on the ambulance and I have pulled people out of mangled automobile wrecks, legs bent askew, holes in the body where no holes should be, vital signs that were incompatible with life. We pulled such folks from the carnage, provided what care we could while making haste to the Cure for Trauma: the Hot Lights of an operating room and the Cold Steel of a gifted surgeon.
We didn't always win, of course. Time and time again, the injury or illness too great, the co-morbid factors to extensive, the time to care too long. We didn't always win, but we always fought.
The damnedest thing about this all was that it rarely bothered me. Life, and conversely death, has always been, in my mind, something that just happens. People are born, people die, and nothing changes those two facts. Sure, maybe sometimes I managed to help sway the pendulum once or twice, but one salient fact remains: Every single person I helped to "save" has, or will, die. I accepted this as part of my life philosophy: People live, people die, that's that, so do the best you can to do the most good you can while you're here, and hope that after you're gone, you've influenced folks to carry on that idea.
That was before today.
Today, I found out that my bride, The Missus, has been diagnosed with Bacterial Meningitis.
She wasn't feeling 100 when she landed on Tuesday, but we both chalked that up to a long week, altitude changes, stress, and maybe more Wedding Libations than we should have had. Wednesday she had a mild fever, but went to work anyway. Thursday, fever was worse, but again she went to work, because that's her ethic and she just doesn't call in sick.
Friday, I talked her into a trip to see the Family Practice Doctor-type person, and she got a shot of Rocephin -- An antibiotic that can kick the ass of most every bacteria out there, but burns like the Soul of Hades -- and a bottle of pills of more. She took them (paramedic's orders work wonders), but didn't get better. This morning, she was in so much pain she couldn't get out of bed.
Enter me. I kept it together long enough to call my cousin, telling him "Go get her, take her to the ER, don't listen to her arguments, move your ass."
Couple hours later, he sent me a text message: "They did a spinal tap. She's going to be admitted. Bacterial something-or-another."
I'm on a flight tomorrow, fast as I can get there to be beside my wife.
I'm not used to being on this side of the fight. And, frankly, I'm more terrified than I've ever been in my 40+ years.