Of Patience and Pain
Saturday night in the ER, it could be 11 or
thereabouts. Time matters not when you are
waiting. Each visitor here has a purpose,
they would not be here had they not. Incessant
florescent lighting obliterates all time. It
could be morning, as easily as it is night.
Settling into chairs of modicum comfort, we wait.
Mothers clutch screaming children, a husband
and a wife, not speaking. Who knows what each
is feeling? Minutes pass slower, punctuated by
coughing and crying. Conversations about nothing,
ailments and symptoms. Disease. I am here, alone.
Why bother someone else with a pain I cannot
control; a pain only I can explain. It is personal.
We all sit, amidst yesterday’s newspaper and
someone else’s problems. We muster the patience
to deal with the sickness, the boredom, the pain,
and the antiseptic scent of helplessness.
An elderly couple sits, three hours now, immune
to the commotion of reckless drunks with bloody
noses. They are quiet, respectful. More people come
and go. And wait. Gradually others take their turn, as
the rest of us wait, not knowing when our time
will come. We hope it is soon, but know it is not.
The elderly gentleman does not remove his hat. She,
tired and hurting, rests her head on his shoulder. He
is her strength. He is there for her, as always and now.
At one point he stands, takes her arm and guides
her to the washroom. He waits outside, as if guarding
his cherished possession. She is there for him. Always.
All those hours in the ER, he held her hand the
entire time. I know nothing of her ailments or
of their history, but I recognize, can plainly see,
all that is there. Love. In his palm, it is in their
lives. A type of love I do not own, perhaps a kind
of love I might have known. Not here.
This couple, a lifetime of love that keeps them
holding hands, in sickness and in health. Closer
now. Till death do them part. Patience, even
through the commotion of the ER and all they
have experienced in life. Love. Time matters
not, when you have the patience required.