I wrote this when Jim was still in the hospital, and hesitated to post it because I didn’t want to burden anyone with yet another story from the hospital. But I re-read it and think it has meaning for the Christmas season.
If you’ll permit me one more post from the strange fish tank that is a hospital . . . Jim is doing better, and is up and around. I think he is surprised by some of the exquisite pleasures of hospital life, such as taking his first shower in four days, which is more wonderful than caviar and champagne. And we continue to have life-altering encounters. Nurses and “Patient Care Technicians” constantly flutter around Jim, taking “vitals” and being solicitous. Yesterday Karen, a “PCT” came in to tidy up and she noted that Jim is in a special kind of room, which has an air-lock available, if needed. If a patient is infectious or has a compromised immune system, this room could be used. Karen said that it was the kind of room her son had been in when he had a bone marrow transplant. “How is he?” I asked. She looked at me and said “He’s in heaven.” Knocked flat, I said I was sorry, but with complete sincerity, she looked at me, and said “Don’t be.” How often I learn that there are worlds within worlds in every person. And yesterday morning, I walked by the chapel on the way to the cafeteria for a cup of coffee. I had never seen anyone in the chapel before, but this time a man was kneeling before the altar, praying aloud. As Jim says, life is closer to the bone in a hospital.
Last night I left Jim and walked down the long darkened hallways of the gargantuan labyrinth that is a modern hospital. Patients lay sleeping in darkened rooms, their beds haloed with glowing lights and dials. In this short time I’ve already developed the habit of coming home and watching an hour of mindless TV just to shake the hospital out of my head. The other day it was the Rachel Zoe Project, which did the trick, and last night a show about the formation of stars. Stars emerge from clouds of coalescing galactic dust, which form whirl pools, and begin spinning. A star forms in the center, and sends out beams of energy into the universe. So I went to bed with whirling stars and hospital corridors colliding uneasily in my mind.
During this experience I keep coming to the same thought, which I, swirling in a whirl pool, send out like a beaming star to anyone who wishes to hear, that you might stop for a moment and appreciate your life for what it is. Out of the hospital, I see people who seem barely awake. In the hospital, I keep running into people who’ve been let in on the secret: don’t wish your life away–every moment is so precious. And, tell the people you love just how much you love them–it will be the best possible Christmas present.
Photo from Nasa Photo Gallery website.