Tuesday, April 08, 2003  

Drive-by Sorrow

Sorrow is the equalizing factor of the human struggle. It is not caused by our ability to experience or feel emotion, only enhanced by it. Every day that we are up, we could most certainly be down the next. For every victory there are inevitable and balancing defeats. Simple stuff, right? No one lives forever and no matter how good the dream, the alarm clock or the daylight are always out there.

I am not trying to be hyper-pessimistic here, but I am trying to convey my understanding of one of the rules you have to learn if you are going to move about and socialize with the humans. The rule that regardless of where you find yourself, what you rate yourself on the perpetually sliding scale of joy, thumbs up or thumbs down, you must allow for the fact that every day around you there is one person having the best day of their life and someone else hitting the bottom of the shaft.

The hospital is never a delightful place to spend time. And that has nothing to do with disease, or death, or any of the scary elements of backfiring biology. It is more a feeling. Even in the nursery where new life begins and hope springs eternal, there is a very real sense of the woods…and as you are there, even visiting, you know you aren’t out yet. I was visting my neice who was admitted for reasons more of caution than disorder. And as I write this she is at home so it wasn’t fatal, or even all that serious.

As I was walking to her room to visit last week I had to take the Map of the Fucking Stars tour just to get to where I was going. This was due to the massive facelift and construction going on at the hospital. The ward where my nieces and nephew and friend’s children were born…no more, abandoned for a new state of the art (whatever the hell that means) facility.

So through the halls I walked. I had to pass 14 radiology labs, 3 waiting rooms, 5 vending machine areas, enumerable scrub-clothed employees, a clinical psychologist that kept calling down the halls for “Gina”, and a duo of nurses that looked to have stepped right out of a NBC medi-drama or possibly a San Fernando Valley porn set. Busy damned hospital, this was.

On the last groups I passed was a doctor fresh from surgery looking into the sullen faces of people both hopeless and optimistic; as if the reality or even the notion of medicine failing was heretical pretense. The doctor was giving it to them straight and giving it to them real. Uncle John, or Aunt Geneva, or Mommy, or Daddy, or the plumber named Ted wasn’t going to make it through. God bless us all, he’s in a better place, Thank You and Goodnight.

BANG! There I was, shot by stray sadness meant for them and only them. I was just passing through on my way to see the little girl that, other than sleepy and rheumy eyes, seemed a picture of good health. I walked by the scene giving only a momentary thought that the rest of the day was going to really suck for whoever those people back there were. It was perhaps going to be their worst day.

Moments later I walked by the nursery where I saw a proud father and obsessively fussy mother fawn over their newborn child. Without question, one of their best days.

And me? I was about a 7.1 on the Joy Scale, with a thumb up, and a smile on my face. It was a good day.

posted by Mike | 3:30 PM
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