She drew a slow, deep breath and walked down the long hallway.
Passing rooms of other dying patients,
she stopped and looked out the window... for anything.
Standing there, staring, she prayed... wordlessly.
Her head knowledge did not help her heart at all.
It kept beating to the rhythm of “why.”
She’d been here before and she knew better than to ask.
He laid there, curled, as she searched his withdrawal for eyes.When he opened them,
she introduced herself as though he was one of the old men she was accustomed to,
The moment she heard her own overly sweet tone escape her lips,
she looked away, wishing she could start over
(reminding her of the myriad of mistakes she’d made on answering machines before.)
There was nothing sweet about this.
He was an old friend and she wasn’t sure if he’d remember.
A young, beautiful man in an old, sick, dying body.
Reaching out, she touched his hand.
“I remember you,” he said.
Swallowing, she tamped her vocal chords,
and began again…
“I didn’t expect to find you here. This is no place for you.
But this is the best place for you.
We will take good care of you.I know it hurts.
You'll find comfort here.”
Her tears welled and fell… and she smiled at him.
Knowing it didn’t matter that her words felt so disjointed.
To be present. To be with. To enter into another’s suffering.
Which profound word could possibly make a difference?
What prayer would change God’s will, now?
His breathing shallow, his speech labored.
He hurt, in so many ways.
It wasn’t about her words.
Then he reached for her hand.
To be still.
To be present.
Without changing anything,
There's a conversation going on over at Tweetspeak Poetry. It's about a book called Rumor's of Water by L.L. Barkat and chapters 9-13 are about finding your voice as a writer. My friend Lyla Lindquist is leading the discussion. I'm about 13 chapters behind my friends. I have the book, but I think I'm the only one who hasn't read it yet. But, I'm with them in spirit. I came home from a rough day at work today and decided I'd join them. I don't really want the voice of death. But, I definitely work in a place of death. I am a sanguine soul, dancing through life creatively. I see comedy in almost everything ... and this hospice work is where God has called me. So far, by his grace and strength, I embrace it.