Breathless Regret

We don’t see or experience the tragedy of unnecessary severe illnesses and COVID-19 deaths firsthand. But like thousands of medical professionals across the country, Victor Ruiz does. He and his fellow healthcare providers are forced to slog forward in the exhausting front-line fight that has dragged on for more than 21 months.

With Omicron and the remnants of Delta increasing hospitalizations and deaths daily, the struggle continues.

Victor and his colleagues are forever changed.

These are his words.

Breathless Regret
by Victor Ruiz

A reminder I have seen
the fear in the eyes
of those she led to their deaths
with her lies:

I will tell you the thing
I will never forget.
Watching them die
in breathless regret.

Clinging to the sheets
As if it contained their soul.
Begging the disease
to please let them go.

Listening to science
a moment too late.
Allowing the misinformed
to determine their fate.

The oxygen fails,
the body goes next.
We look on as they scream
to God “not yet!”

The caregiver forever changes
at the head of your bed.
From saving your life,
to the hand on your head.

You imagined death
in a room full of love.
But instead human touch
comes from behind a glove.

When it is over
the caregiver moves on.
Hoping the next one
took that shot in the arm.

© Victor Ruiz, 2022

Cartoon image of healthcare professionals trying to save a COVID-19 patient
by Moi Escudero

Victor Ruiz is a respiratory therapist in a major medical center in Texas. Respiratory therapists are involved in every case where advanced airway protection and/or high levels of oxygen are needed. They also are the primary managers of medical facilities’ ventilators. He and his colleagues have been on the front lines fighting for the lives of COVID-19 patients since the beginning of the pandemic, waiting and hoping for a vaccine, then watching in disbelief as people have declined to be vaccinated.

He is real. So are all the other aides, doctors, environmental and food service workers, nurses, pharmacists and physician assistants fighting COVID. They’re doing everything they can. They deserve our respect and consideration, and they absolutely deserve our help.

#HelpFightCOVID #WearAMask #GetVaccinated #GetTheBooster

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Cartoon image of comic superheros plus a medical professional

Martin C. Fredricks IV

Martin C. “Red” Fredricks IV here. I’m husband to an amazing woman who is also my best friend, dad to three outstanding kids, Fargoan (North Dakota, that is), proud introvert, veteran messaging strategist/copywriter, blogger ( nonprofit founder ( and big-time reader. As they say, if you're gonna write good stuff, you have to read good stuff. A ginger, too - ergo the "Red" - although some of it's going white. Cinnamon-Sugar, I call it. Tattooed to boot; seven so far. At age 54, I'm stilling crankin' AC/DC & Metallica, but now and again I spin some Eric Church and Black Uhuru, too. I love hanging out with my (much) better half, spending time with our kids, writing, hiking, riding my mountain bike and reading.


Donna Marcy · January 20, 2022 at 1:44 pm

Amen Victor!! And I’m Proud to work beside you everyday. Even on the days that we are all overwhelmed, you never hesitate to greet me with a smile. We continue to fight the fight together🥰

    Martin C. Fredricks IV · January 20, 2022 at 2:13 pm

    I’ll send this on to Victor. Thank you for reading and commenting, Donna. I hope you come back soon. 🙂 Martin

beth forkner moe · January 3, 2022 at 8:51 pm

Well-written, as usual. Thank you.

    Martin C. Fredricks IV · January 4, 2022 at 7:02 am

    Thank you, Beth. I agree, Victor’s poem is so heartbreaking. All the best to you and yours.

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