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Saturday, July 15, 2017

IN THE ROOM WITH THE LIGHTS OUT

She lies still under the soft sheet-like blanket that the hospital provides, all the world shut off and isolation is evident. I guess dying is the signal that one no longer counts among the living. The loneliness is pronounced, like the clarion of a hunt, loud and clear and final.

The room offers nothing but a reminder of a life spent, that it is or may be the final resting place for someone's child. Often when I visit someone who is on the threshold of crossing to the other side, the air, the sounding silence and the gravity of it all takes me to the thoughts of the parents, mostly mothers who have passed on and now wait for the reunification of their child.

I often wonder how a mother who is alive worries about her child no matter how old that child is. It takes me to another place, a place filled with mystery and wonder, what does the mother that is deceased see when her living child in under duress or danger? If she is alive in thought or knowledge that in spite of her existence, does she feel the worry she had as a living person for her child? Is she happy when the final day approaches for a sick child that it is all over, the hurt and meanness of this World we call home?

As I looked down into the tubes and connectors to this poor child in her early 50's, a restlessness comes over me like a wave that sweeps one to the shore, or maybe a rip-tide that pulls you away from the safety of the shore and crashes into you with pictures of your own child, a suffocating sense of desperation. It makes you want to hold your own child, squeeze her tight and never let her go.

In life, we have three entities: yesterday, today, and tomorrow when it comes to our children. When they die on us it leaves us with only yesterday, the reality that the book of life is finished and there is no more to write, only to read, over and over again.

When I visit someone without family that is on that threshold of eternity, someone without loved ones, it reminds me of a situation that happened to me a few years ago. It doesn't matter how old, it is someone's child. It could be 90 or 9 or 9 months, it is someone's child. It could be you, or me, or your own child. We are all: someone's child.

One morning, I went out to get a coffee and buttered roll, and as I entered the Handy Pantry, there stood at the counter an elderly woman. The small counter was loaded with groceries, cans, boxes and loose vegetables. Except for it being such a large order, I didn't think much about it and went to the coffee pots. I poured a cup, placed a lid on it and went to pay for it. There still stood the older woman. She was small, somewhat delicate and overburdened by her purchases. She was struggling to put her change in her purse, and gather her many bags. She looked up at me and seemed embarrassed and apologetic for still being there and taking so long. I reassured her that she need not hurry on my part, that she should take her time.

Without sounding elitist or obnoxious, she seemed somewhat simple in her manner. Her focus was trying to explain herself to me through her eyes! Her shoddy coat, her head covered with a tied-on scarf, she dragged herself out of the store. She made me feel sad. Funny thing is I felt sad not so much for her, as for her parents! Yes, she was much older than me, and I felt sad for her parents, parents who are long ago dead! Why? Because I wondered if they looked down on her at that moment and realized she was so vulnerable.

I often wonder if those that passed on look down on us, and view our lives from the other side. Do they see when we are in danger, do they see when we struggle and fall? Do they cry when that happens? Do they worry?

As a father of three children that live in my world, I worry about them. I might get angry with them from time to time, but rest assured, they are someone's children. Mine. I think about how we hurt each other, and cripple and maim. I see pictures of orphans, tears in their eyes as they struggle to survive from wars and natural disasters, maybe hiding from some predator, and I think, that is someone's child!

I often wonder if my in-laws, my father, and mother-in-law look down on their daughter. Do they think I take good enough care of their daughter? Do they worry about her because of me? I do try, but is it good enough?

So when you start to lose your cool, become impatient and maybe want to smack someone, remember, it is someone's child.

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