Friday, September 25, 2009
Between the Darkness and the Light ...
It was very quiet and dark on the second floor tonight. Only the gentle sounds of, seemingly contented souls, snoring gently, oblivious to the roaring chatter stampeding through his head. This was the second night that he had slept in a bed that was not his own.
He likes his own bed. The familiar smell of the brown, checked woolen blanket, the new red curtains, occasionally, brushing his arm as he tries to turn, the shufflings of the dog in the kitchen, as he attempts to make a comfortable bed for himself on the narrow bench. The monotonous tick- tick of the clock in the hall, chiming the hour and the half hour, relentlessly signaling the passage of each day and night. Sometimes, when sleep is slow to arrive, he finds himself counting the ticks, wondering if he will be able to count himself into a new day. His mind usually wanders and the shadows from the soft light in the hall, left on to light his way through the darkness of the night, throw up forms and shapes that spirit him to a world where he is the man he was, and still wants to be. The man who faced his world with an unquenchable enthusiasm, who charged through life with a gentleness of spirit, loved and loving, impatient with fools and foolish to the charms of children. Independent.
The night nurse, a petite, pretty girl, appears, silently at his bedside.
“Are you still awake Larry? Are you having difficulty getting off to sleep? Is there anything I can get for you?” she whispers.
“What time is it?” he says, none too softly. He has never really learned the art of whispering. The army life.
“Oh sure tis the middle of the night Larry, you really should try to sleep … have you any pain?”
“No, no pain …I’m o.k”.
“Alright then, just press the bell if you need anything, we’re just up the corridor .. Goodnight” she says softly, with a light pat on his arm and leaves the room as quietly as she had come in.
Angels of mercy, they call them.
How did he get here? When did he come to need other people to just live? He could feel the remnants of some age-old anger lurking in his soul. Raging against his God. Why him? Why not him? He wished he could still run. He dreamed of running . Of feeling his legs powering him forward, strong and unbeatable. King of his world. He hadn’t run for 20 years. He hadn’t walked independently for 5 years. The betrayal of his sleeping mind was unbearable. Since the first stroke, 15 years ago, his life had changed, slowly. Always, the hope that things would go back to the way they were. They never did. He watched himself become the man he didn’t want to be. Old. Dependent. He knew he was a lucky man. They kept telling him so. He had a loving, caring family, all his needs catered for, patience and compassion abounding. Why was he still alive? Did God have a reason for slowly stripping him of his dignity, his sense of humor, his capacity for enjoying life to the full? Was he too lucky?
Fifteen years is a long time to be learning new tricks. A long time to be wrestling with anger and impatience.
As he lay there, watching the morning light creeping through the curtains, he thought of the day ahead … What would it bring? Would they find anything in the scan they had planned for him? Or would it show up negative, leaving them scratching their heads unable to find a definitive reason for his inability to stand?
Apart from old age, that is.
He was tired now.
Tired of the struggle. The struggle with his body, his soul, his torment.
Maybe he should pray?
To a God he did not understand.
He yearned for the familiar sound of his hall clock.
Ushering in a safe new day.