Hospital rooms are weird. People gather and sit. It smells funny. The sounds of the ward are terrifying. When I was young, I didn’t know that I was bad at this. One visit to a woman dying of cancer, changed that. I am very bad at this. Sometimes the smells, sounds, and enormity of the hospital overwhelms me. I’ve found myself in the hallway bent over trying not to hurl, or tucked away in a family sitting room demanding my last wishes be captured in writing, right now. Seriously, I am really bad at this. But this isn’t about me. Today is not my day.
This week, we’ve spent a lot of time in the hospital. It is very sad. People I love are hurting and there is nothing I can do to make it better. My husband is brilliant in these situations. When things get crazy, his blood pressure drops and he gets completely calm. Like scary calm. He leans in and listens. He explains the processes, and talks to the nurses. I play solitaire. My job is to watch him. To make sure he is okay. In moments like these he forgets to take care of himself and its my job (our job) to take care of him. This time in the hospital isn’t about me, it’s him and his family, and we will honor that. It’s how we roll.
In the hours I’ve spent in the hospital this week, I’ve been thinking a lot about what matters. People matter, the gathered family and the love they share. Life matters, not just life in this moment, but all the life that brought them to this place. The days and minutes of love and laughter, the moments of pain and conflict, the whole story matters here. That’s it really. The people and the experiences of living. Nothing else. No one cares about the cars or the houses, no one is talking about the furniture or the nicknacks. Hospital rooms have a way of bringing clarity to a situation.
I spend a lot of time thinking about things that will never happen. I worry about possibilities that never materialize. Here in the quiet of a hospital room, I realize that what makes up a life are the loves and joys accumulated over time. The experiences, the ways we touch other lives, the friendships, and the things that bring us joy. These are the things that matter. These are the things that carry us through. I wish we weren’t spending time in hospital rooms, but since we are here, I will give thanks for the clarity this place brings.