There are a few tense moments, a few moments that make the entire world stop where it was and take notice, where all of a sudden the reverie is broken and we all suddenly recall why we are here. Some of us are trying to forget if only for a moment, while some where trying to distract themselves from the inconvenient reality of their immediate surroundings.
A gurgling sound from his quavering throat, a small rustle of movement of his sheets, and it all comes back, like the first thunder in the distance on a cloudy day that shows the storm to be in earnest in its approach.
The man in the hospital bed instantly becomes the center of attention again. All turn their heads to look, those at his side, who were moments before transfixed by the television or by the conversations they were engrossed in, drop everything, eyes upon him, hands at the ready to assist in any way possible or necessary.
The man looks gaunt, haggard, like a ghost under the white hospital linens. He looks like a man wanted by the grim reaper. But those around him are not willing to surrender him. As for him, he is a fighter, but he is drugged to make him comfortable, so it is hard to see the fight in him, but seeing how he was fighting before, fighting like a man possessed, or more aptly put like a man unwilling to let go, one presumes that under that cloud of drugs he is still fighting like mad. Try as he might though the machines do most of the work breathing for him, and that fight simply does not visibly register.
At his side, a hand touches his arm, a voice on one side of the room asks ” Still swollen?”
“Yep.” comes the flat reply. “Is he still running a temperature?” “Guess so, he seems warm to me, last I heard he was running at 101 degrees.” All eyes upon him, some red rimmed, some faces grim, some expressions badly masking true emotions.
Silence from him. A few feet shuffle, his wife’s hand on his other side pats his, she simply says “It’s OK.” the television talks to itself, grabbing attention. A commercial; loud, brash, and stupid, dances it’s dance across the screen. Then the sports comes back on. We tell ourselves we are all there to watch the game with him, but his eyes do not see the game. Ours do, and we return to the reverie of watching the game.
A distraction, but a necessary one.
He is there because he is ill. He may pass soon, and that is a source of immense pain and trepidation. The sense of loss, though he is still in our midst is palpable and soul-crushing. No one speaks of it directly, we cannot, though all acknowledge it without speaking, by means of body language and facial expression.
We are there to be near him, to be together, so that by sharing pain, we divide it, lessening it for all those involved. To maybe even laugh and smile a bit as we stay together, in the darkest and most serious of moments, to lighten a heavy load that no one should ever have to bear alone.
To withstand the inevitable together.
That’s it from here, America. G’night.