Sunday, July 29, 2012

A Special Hearing

A hospital bed held the man now, and baby blue flannel covered his limbs. His face was drawn into a deeper brown than the rest of him, and shadows made a half-circle over the skin under his eyes. They were the kind of heavy shadows that the sunlight could not stretch far enough through the window bars to reach. He was overcome, with sickness, with emotion, with the struggle to form once easy words into full sentences, and with a mind full of burdens no other soul could access.

This was some woman’s son, well into his fifties now. He seemed distant, isolated from the reality of his situation. The nurses fluttered in and out of the room, unbothered. They whisked past the officers posted at the door, securing any sentiment they may have held, under white latex gloves. A young advocate sat close to the edge of a chair, not far from the bed. He leaned in close to decipher the strained whispers from his detained elder, contemplating a defense. It was like struggling to catch a breeze from the backside a rock. The elder said that he had spent most of his manhood inside of a prison. He had embarked on a career that was the easiest for him to reach, one that entailed the small-time trade of weapons and street-wide narcotics that he personally tested. He was still dealing with the professional hazards and all the other perils that he inherited by circumstance. And he had found himself in this position again. He shook his head.

Somewhere outside of the room, a group of officials was loitering on the glossy hallway floors, becoming inpatient about the length of time this entire affair was taking. Inside, the younger of the two men was feeling quite helpless. The man in front of him reminded him of an uncle. He tried to read on the elder’s face any awareness of his impending demise. If the man knew that the sickness would take him, he did not show it. He only spoke about his family. His sons in Florida, who did not know what had happened to him, and who, he mused, would likely not care to know. A sister he had once been very close to; a younger brother that had just died. The elder would soon join those that had gone before him. The advocate and the nurses exchanged the knowledge in their glances. The advocate sighed as he looked over at the painted white bars that made a wall in front of the hospital windows. He observed the elder’s roommate reading the comics in the other bed, as if he were the only person in the room. An official suddenly appeared at the door and inquired if the two men were finally prepared. The advocate nodded. He wondered in which facility the elder would eventually die. He breathed hard, gathered the papers on his lap, and readied himself.


the company man said...

Oddly enough, I just caught drinks with an old colleague who lost his father this year. He described his father's disposition almost exactly opposite as you described it here, but the image is the same. His father spent his life not being scared of death but when finally face to face with finality, all he could think about was life. It's all happening. Always. Great read.

Anonymous said...

It takes more than a keen eye and mastery of words to capture the poignancy of this situation. It takes a man full of compassion and grace.

The preacher man in my home town country church says "We all must go this way," meaning that everyone must face the day when we have more yesterdays than tomorrows.

The heartbreak here is complicated - thoughts of transitioning with dignity being threatened by choices we're made and those made for us.

Thanks for the reminder.