(Originally posted on April 4, 2007)
You think to yourself, this sucks. And it does.
You think to yourself, this isn’t fair. And it isn’t.
You think to yourself that this man next to you is getting, as Neil wrote, what everyone gets. A lifetime. How much longer is it going to be? And what is the quality going to be like?
You look at his bracelet and see that his birth date is 12/10/43. And you think to yourself, hmm, I always thought it was the 11th. No wonder he always gave you an odd look when you wished him a happy birthday.
You think about how old you were when you met. You were around five. So he must have been around… 31. Younger than you are now. How is it that he had all the answers then, and you, older than that now, have no answers at all?
You think that it is sickly funny that the clock above the door is stuck at 1:32:37. What time do they call out if someone dies?
You think that this has to end. This can’t go on forever. And you think about your outrage that this man is slowly being stripped of his dignity. You think that if you were a different person that you would get angry at God for the sheer unfairness of this man’s suffering. That if you were an even different person, you would pray to God for an end to this man’s pain. But you are who you are, so instead you look inside yourself for strength to help others, and for only grace and love to be felt in your touch and seen on your face.
You think about the other people around. You want to know all their stories. Who are they? Why are they here? What brought them to this moment in time? You think that everybody who is visiting someone else in this hell of an Emergency Room all have one thing in common, that spark of loving someone else.
You think about how fucked up “the system” is, that this man has been waiting 12 hours, naked, shivering under a sheet, howling in pain and begging for help, waiting for a room. That you press the call button for a nurse to please for the love of humanity would you give this man something to take the pain away… and it takes ten minutes for them to walk 25 feet from the desk into the cubicle because they’re so overwhelmed with the seething masses in the waiting room who are forced by whatever lot in life to have to use the ER as a primary care physician.
You think back to a time when this man, or your father, or your aunt or uncle, would have been the one sitting next to the bed of a loved one while other people were at home making sure there was food and love in the house. And you stumble over the thought that you are the adult now. You’re the one who’s going to be doing this, for person after person that you love. And that hurts your heart. But it’s okay, because this; this sitting, this hand-holding, this hair brushing and these tears are what you give to the people that you love. These people who are closer to your heart than your own skin.
You sit and you knit, and you remember an older couple you had seen in the radiation clinic one time, waiting with your father. She had been knitting a blanket while waiting for her husband. This was before you had picked knitting back up from the depths of your childhood, and you were fascinated. She had said that it calmed her down; that it gave her something with which to keep her fingers busy so that her mind wouldn’t make such a commotion. You know just what she means. This stitch is the future. This stitch is for love. This stitch is for loss. This stitch is for carrying on. This stitch is for giggles. This stitch is for having a drink. This stitch is for time ticking by. This stitch is for remembering to breathe.
And you think how lucky you are, that you have such friends waiting for you, who will listen to what you have to say, or read what you need to write, and hold your hand either virtually or in real life. You are so lucky that you’ve opened your heart to love and found such amazing strong feisty fun friends, even those whose faces you’ve not yet seen in person. You love each and every person taking the time out of their day to read this, and you thank them in your mind.