The Sacred Silence

By Debbie Moore-Black, RN

Mom wept silently as she stared at her dead daughter — quiet, near catatonic. I was prepared for a sharp scream.

But she sat there quietly. She was staring at her beautiful but lifeless daughter.

Young with long black hair and 21 years old. She was mom’s pride and joy.

The daughter got into yet another fight with her boyfriend. They were both in college dorm apartments. She couldn’t stand the screaming anymore.

As a little girl, her dad would scream at her mom. The screaming always haunted her.

She remembered hiding under her bed, hugging her teddy bear, crying. Make them stop, make them stop!

Her boyfriend wouldn’t stop screaming. She opened the window in her small apartment to breathe in fresh air. And in an irrational decision, she jumped out the window — five stories down.

The boyfriend called 911. He was in disbelief and packed a night bag of clothes for her with pajamas and socks. And he followed the ambulance to the ER.

The trauma team was activated, called overhead. STAT. Blaring out: “Code trauma ER, code trauma ER.”

She laid lifeless on the stretcher. Her face was perfect. But her organs were destroyed.

Carefully intubated, they rushed her up to the surgical trauma ICU.
And she was mine.

I looked at her and knew.

I immediately said to the trauma surgeon, “She’s dead.”

The trauma physician said, “I know, I know, but we have to try. We’ll insert a few chest tubes. Maybe a pneumothorax.”

His residents stood by and watched this trauma team work quickly and meticulously.

I hooked the chest tubes up to suction — IV, normal salines flowing rapidly through her veins.

No response. No BP. No pulse. No respirations. It was just a vacant stare that left this earth 30 minutes ago.

And the trauma surgeon, after placing bilateral chest tubes, pronounced her death.

The police went to her mother’s house to bring her mom in.

I never did well with young people. They always broke my heart.

But I was preparing for the mother to be hysterical.

I was prepared to hear a blood-curdling scream.

The mom walked in slowly.

She sat in the chair I provided her. She was staring at her daughter. She sat silently. Not a word. Not a scream. Almost catatonic.

Her beautiful baby girl.

Gone forever.

The mom stayed for one hour. I approached her but didn’t say a word.

It was a sacred silence.

I put my hand on her shoulder. She reached for my hand with her trembling hands. Holding my hand she silently wept.

I wept also.

After one year working in this surgical-trauma ICU, I swore I saw it all. But my heart couldn’t take it anymore.

My steel heart had crushed into a thousand pieces.


Originally published at

Tears from heaven: a nurse’s tribue to Dr. Robert Lesslie

By: Debbie Moore-Black, RN

Recently, a former NFL football player, Phillip Adams, murdered Dr. Robert Lesslie, his wife, his two grandchildren ages 5 and 9, an air conditioning appliance man, and critically injured a second man. The NFL player had gunned down these innocent people. And then, he left and went to his parent’s house (who lived on the same road), and after hours of the SWAT team begging this man to surrender, he shot and killed himself in the head.

We don’t know why this happened. We do not know the motive. This story continues to unravel.

I met this physician years ago, as I was working on my RN and doing my clinicals at this local hospital. Dr. Robert Lesslie was famous, especially to us students. He was a brilliant physician, cool and calm in any emergency situation. He was the chief of emergency services at this local hospital, and eventually, he started his own free-standing emergency medical centers and added hospice and palliative care.

Beyond being the best ER physician you would ever meet, he was also kind and compassionate to others. We, the nursing students, were just little minions at the time, but you wouldn’t know it to him. If you were lucky to meet him, you would be met by a firm handshake, a sparkle in his eyes, and a challenge to all of us to study and become the best person, the best nurse, the best paramedic, the best respiratory therapist ever.

Beyond being a physician, a husband, a father of four and several grandchildren, his kaleidoscope of kindness and gratitude of caring and contributing freely to non-profit agencies of people in need; he and his wife were strong members of their local church. Proud of his Christianity, endless love for his Savior.

He once wrote the book, Angels in the ER.

We can’t comprehend senseless tragedies. We can’t explain what goes on in a person’s mind to gun down four adults and two small children.
Dr. Robert Lesslie wrote of the day he would meet his Maker. A perfect heaven and reunion with his mother and father and grandparents. A beautiful masterpiece in the heavens.

We do not know what goes on with tormented souls to end other lives and to end their own life.

We do not know the hour of our death.

It was an honor and privilege to have met you, Dr. Lesslie, 37 years ago. You inspired me and challenged me to go further, and to not only help others medically but to do so with kindness in our hearts.

I will always remember that sparkle in your eyes that told me to not give up.

Today it rained.

Tears from heaven.


Originally published at