The following is a small section of Chapter One. One that I think may set the tone for the story you will be reading shortly.
NORMAL DAY, LET ME BE AWARE OF THE TREASURE YOU ARE,
LET ME LEARN FROM YOU, LOVE YOU, SAVOR YOU,
BLESS YOU, BEFORE YOU DEPART.
LET ME NOT PASS YOU BY IN QUEST OF SOME RARE AND PERFECT TOMORROW.
LET ME HOLD YOU WHILE I MAY, FOR IT WILL NOT ALWAYS BE SO…
ONE DAY I SHALL DIG MY FINGERS INTO THE EARTH, OR BURY MY
FACE IN THE PILLOW OR STRETCH MYSELF TAUT,
OR RAISE MY HANDS TO THE SKY,
AND WANT MORE THAN ALL THE WORLD… YOUR RETURN.
~Mary Jean Irion~
MY THOUGHTS WERE ELSEWHERE AS I made my way through the main lobby and slowly glanced toward the front door. Exhausted, I looked up at the large clock just to the right of where I stood. Not only did I not know the time, I was not even sure what day it was. The clock confirmed it was just before midnight, and the dimmed lighting cast long shadows across the marble floor. There was hardly a soul in sight at that hour, but occasionally a res- ident or nurse would hurry through the foyer as they finished a shift to make their way home. The footsteps of the periodic passersby echoed against the walls of the empty lobby. The gaits of those few making their way out of work had purpose. I could almost sense that their day was not quite over; they walked with intention, as if things still needed to be done.
I made sure to avoid all eye contact with anyone crossing my path. I was alone in my thoughts, and no one was allowed into that place. Good or bad, I wasn’t willing to share any of it just yet. Any acknowledgement of reality at that point would make what was happening real, thus needing to be dealt with. I chose to remain numb.
On a normal day, the constant activity in this area of the hospital was more akin to an airport terminal during rush hour. There were always the background sounds of laughter and chatter as families and staff gathered or met in passing, always a variety of conversations going on. At times they would involve detailed medical discussions regarding unnamed patients. Visiting families would gather as they arrived and departed. There was the constant clamor of voices and nonstop motion. Those were the typical sights and sounds of Yale New Haven Hospital, one of the largest and most renowned teaching hospitals in the country.
In the wee hours of the morning, silence was all there was to be heard. During those early days I can recall the sense of feeling utterly alone, even when surrounded by family or friends. A feeling of numbness had taken over my very existence during the past weeks; any escape was not likely to happen anytime soon.