Monday, December 6, 2010

Death Takes Up Too Much Space

I'm spending the next 2 weeks In the surgical intensive care unit, since my interview schedule is a little slow in December. My first day back on a surgical service since August, and I'm already waiting for a patient to die. The death has been a long process. A long morning.  A family meeting, then withdrawing care, then a morphine drip. Maybe it's because I'm fresh off of my novel writing adventure, but I'm feeling very poetic about Death today. Here goes nothing:

Death takes up a lot of space.  It demands a perimeter around it, where Life is not allowed.  No laughing here.  No smiling.  No talking about what you'll make for dinner.  How much space do you need, Death? 10 feet? 15 feet?   The whole hospital floor?  How far away do I need to keep my Life, to avoid offending your perimeter?  Certainly I must leave your room- where the silent monitors growl at me.  Certainly I cannot stay in the waiting room- where the family wearing black stares me down.  I'll take my Life down to the cafeteria, I suppose, to avoid your looming glare.
I'd like to check my email.  Is that ok, Death?  I'll promise not to smile.  Even if I see a picture of my nephew, I'll be as stone-faced as a wall.  Your expanding perimeter soon takes out the nurses station too.  Can I still have donut, with all its cheerful sprinkles? No? Fine.
Ballooning outward, stretching your limbs like a tired cat, you reach down every hallway whispering, "Run away, Life.  Right now, all this is mine." Life reluctantly obilges, shrinking into the corners and closets, knowing that this too shall pass.  Death will pass over us and soon leave us alone, we reassure one another. Life will resume its rhythm and dance, knowing that it was a small price to pay to keep Death satisfied.  We'll shirk to the corners every time you enter, Our Friend Death, as long as you keep ignoring us in favor of sicker souls.
Slowly you fade away, shrinking back into your secret hiding place some place in the bowels of the hospital, where you can watch us furiously scurry to stave you off.  Oh, if we could find you, and smoke you out like a rabid raccoon.  Alas, you hide too well and we are left dreading your next return, hoping it won't be in our very own house.  There's no room for you in my house, Death. I'll fill it up with Life and Laughter, build a perimeter of my own to stand at its border with my wand raised to you crying, "See, Death? I take up space too! "

1 comment:

  1. Wow - I like it. I will develop a life and laughter perimeter of my own!!!