filled his blue eyes, open wide and full of worry. At first glance, from the hallway, the only visible things were a single foot protruding from beneath a blanket and a partially filled urinal on the tray table.
I wondered, before walking into the room to speak with him, what I would find. I was already feeling badly for him simply knowing that a container holding his urine sat on a table where soon, his lunch would be placed.
I felt that surely, had there been family present, that would not have been the case and, not to my surprise, I found him alone.
He was worried. It was evident in his sad, sad eyes. They were wide open, showing the incredible blueness, wrinkled at the edges from a lifetime of emotion; laughter, tears, anger.
He was a widower. He had children, but his voice betrayed his attempt at courage as he spoke of wishing to go home. His blue eyes became even more sad as he spoke of a home that he knew, in his heart, he would not return to.
I felt a wave of righteous fury toward his children, none of whom had been to visit him during his week-long stay in the hospital, as he spoke of having nobody to care for him.
I thought of my own father. Thought of his sadness were he to lose my mother and be left to live out his days without the woman that he loved more than life.
Many times, and to my mother I have said such, I have prayed that if my parents cannot die at the same time, I hope my dad goes first. I cannot bear to even entertain the thought of him trying to cope without my mother. He is strong in body and spirit, but would be lost without her.
She, on the other hand, is tough as nails. A survivor full of beauty and strength and would, though with sadness and tears, move on and make the best of a seriously bad situation.
While her tears would cut me deeply, tears shed by my dad shatter me. I would be of little use to him, not that he would last for long without her as he would soon die of sadness. I know this as surely as I know the sun rises in the East.
But I digress. I wasn’t speaking of my parents, but of poor, sad-eyed mister who lay in the hospital bed, dwarfed by the room, confused by the lingo, hurt by the antipathy of his children.
He wanted to go home and held, other than that wish, no other ambition or hope.
It would not come to pass. He would not go home. Not to the home where he lived for over fifty years with his wife before she died. Not to the home where his children, who had now abandoned him, had been raised.
He would not go back to where the garden once thrived with vegetables and a myriad of flowers in the summertime, the trees bursting full and golden in Autumn.
He would not walk the familiar halls that had brought him comfort in his time of need.
He would not sleep in the bed that conformed to his body due to years of use.
He would be a stranger among strangers.
It took all of my strength and everything I could dig from the depths of myself to not burst into tears while speaking to him; seeing him old and broken and alone.
His wide eyes, full of worry, filled me with compassion and empathy. I, in my mind and heart, brought him home with me. Though there is an unwritten rule among nurses to not become too attached, he has been here, dancing on the edges of my thoughts, since the day I met him.
I have cried for him, prayed for him and inwardly cursed his children for their inattentiveness. I want, in these last years of his life, happiness for him.
I try no to get too attached, but I am human and I fall in love with those the world has so blithely displaced. He will remain in my prayers and though I will likely never see him again, his eyes will haunt me.
They haunt me now as do so many others; young, old, suffering, addicted, betrayed, sickened, world-weary souls who need, more than anything else, to be loved.
I have said it before and I reiterate it now … I am too softhearted to be a nurse. I always have been.
Leviticus 19:32 ~ Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honor the face of the old man, and fear thy God: I am the Lord.