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Jun 6, 2008

I Can't Say Goodnight

. Jun 6, 2008


My Mom and I walk down the stark hall and stop at the staff elevators. Our tired feet refuse to continue around the corner to the visitor elevators. I know my Mom must be more exhausted than I because she never breaks a rule. We've just left my Dad in his hospital room for the night after getting a pace maker. This after a three-day stay of not knowing what was wrong. He was groggy, but in pretty good spirits.

The elevator door slides open. An older Asian man leans against one wall and looks at the floor. We enter and he briefly glances at us. He wears a cap that says, "America the Beautiful" with a bald eagle graphic. His eyes are weary behind his glasses, red and a bit puffy from the evening's goodbyes, I imagine. He holds a plastic "patient's belongings" bag by its drawstring. It is full with items. One pink fuzzy sock pokes out of the hole on the top.

We reach the ground floor and the doors clank open. We three worriers walk in silence to the exit doors. It feels unnatural to leave a loved one behind in the care of strangers and that feeling tightens your chest when you reach the edge of the building.

As we go through the exit, the man's bag hits the door frame and the pink sock falls out. Its bright color in sharp contrast to the gray sidewalk and our somber mood. I snatch it up and for a split second, wonder whose foot it belongs to:

Me: "Sir, Sir! Your sock!"
Man: (Turns to me, eyes wide and startled by my voice) What? Oh. Oh. Thank you.
Me: Here you go.
Man: (He clutches the fuzzy sock in his hand) Ah. My wife. I could not say goodnight to her. I could not say it.
Me: Oh. It's alright. I'm sure she understands.
Man: She had cancer six years ago. And she survived. But the radiation burned everything up. Ahh. This is a hard life. I could not say goodnight to her...
My Mom: I'm sure you are doing your best. We do our best and we just keep going.
Man: I'm going back. I'm going back to say goodnight. I thank you.

The small old man clutching a pink fuzzy sock walks purposely through the double doors and back toward the elevators. Just before he gets to the visitor's desk, he brushes the sock against his cheek, I think to wipe a few tears away.

14 Whispers:

Drowsey Monkey said...

That made me cry. Touching, sad, and so real.

G8rBryan said...

Reading posts like this makes you put things in perspective and reminds us not to take things for granted.

k.Fields said...

What a wonderful post. Makes you stop for a minute and count your blessings, and also reminds us that the stranger standing next to you may be experiencing something very emotional, and you may not even know. Thank-you for sharing. :)

RecycleCindy said...

A wonderful reminder that one never knows what life might dish out to you or a loved one. Touching post -- thanks for sharing your experience in that hospital with us.

Vienne said...

@Drowsey, Me too. I hope things improved for that couple today.

@G8rBryan, that's for sure. I don't mean to depress everyone, but occasional reality checks like this help me stay real.

@k.Fields, it's so true what you say about not knowing what's going on with each other. If I had encountered that man in an elevator anywhere besides a hospital, I'd have thought he was unfriendly. I always greet people when sharing an just never know what people are carrying around.

@RecycleCindy, that's true. I think about that when I'm faced with it, then I'm distracted and the awareness is gone. I guess that's only human, but still...

Ken Armstrong said...

It's important that we realise how hard life will someday become - it's helps us to treasure the good times more while we are in them rather than mourning them afterward.

A line from the movie/play 'Shadowlands' sums it up well:

"The pain now is part of the happiness then. That's the deal."

Patricia Rockwell said...

Thank you for sharing this sweet moment of true love. Tears are flowing.

Rene' Morris said...

:*-( Oh. My. Gosh.

BassoonBabe said...

Wonderful blog. We can learn so much from others if we just shut our mouths and open our ears. I'm going to add your blog to my favorites, what a great outlook.

p.s. I found you through the yellow E on the right sidebar.

Bethany said...

I hope he did say good night. A kiss. And so much more.

This was a wonderful moment you got to inspire and witness!

Henson Ray said...

Excellent writing. You have a very engaging style.

Anonymous said...

Love your blog and this story is the reason why. Thanks for hearing what so many of us don't.
Praying that all goes well for your Dad.

Guy Vestal said...

Great post, very insightful. Nice website too. Dugg & Stumbled!

Anonymous said...

Wow!!! Love your blog. Thanks for sharing :)


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