I have finally learned how to deal with being surrounded by death, sickness, tragedy and the medical point of no return. I have eliminated every emotional aspect of patient care.

A daughter standing by her mother’s side, waiting for a day that may never come? She is just an observer to me. I don’t ask questions anymore. I say hello and smile on the outside, but steel myself on the inside.

Speaking to a family about the likelyhood that their loved one will not survive more than 6 months? I am just a talking head, I am not present in the moment. I leave them in the company of the chaplain, turn and walk away.

Another brain death ordeal? I stay on the opposite side of the unit.

You see? It’s all very easy now.

Friday night, I stop by my coffee shop and order a mocha. She starts the espresso machine, but he stops her. “Doc Shazam and I have a very special mocha relationship,” the Coffee Jerk says to his wife. “We’ve been perfecting it for years.” (Never mind that I first visited a month ago).

The mocha melts on my tongue like a red port wine. Just a hint of chocolate. Not too sweet. Just the right consistency. It is perfect. The drink absolves me of all responsibility and emotion of the past week.

The high school crowd jamming to the open mike night gives way to the father of one of the boys with his own demons to exorcise…his full, vibrant strumming of an acoustic guitar melts any remaining tension in my shoulders as I sip the last blended extracts of Coffea Arabica and Theobroma Cacao.