THAT MAN was lying on an old hospital bed. He was alone, thinking of his sad situation, for what else could he do? In the only empty corner of that old hospital room, was an old style chair, obviously in need of a coat of paint, and at the right side of the bed, was a tripod with a plastic bag hanging from it. A thin hose of synthetic rubber came out from the plastic bag that was hooked into his right hand through a long hypodermic needle.
He realized that it was a saline solution, a liquid that was getting into his body. “Why?” he thought. On the wall close to the top end of the bed were some instruments, instruments with little red light bulbs, turning on and off intermittently. There was also on that wall, something that for him, seemed like a miniature television set with a green line crossing the little screen, a line that constantly moved up and down as if somebody were writing an interminable series of U’s.. That man could see every thing around him. He knew he was in the hospital, but his immediate and limitless problem was that he didn’t know why, and that problem caused him a lot of desperation and anxiety. He tried to talk but he couldn’t. Nothing came from his throat. He tried to yell, but he couldn’t do that either. There were no tears in his eyes, yet he could feel that he was crying desperately. He tried to jump out of the bad, but his body didn’t respond at all. He was paralyzed, unable to move. Exasperation was building within his body little by little. He desperately wanted to get the attention of someone, of any one; he needed to tell somebody that he was conscious.
That man decided to calm himself down so that he could weigh the pros and cons of his situation. “Well… nothing functions in me, except my sight and my hearing. How, then, am I going to communicate?”
At that moment the door opened with a doctor and a nurse entering the room, each holding a file in their hand. While checking the instruments, the nurse repeatedly spoke to herself in low voice, “This man’s agony has been extensive and long.” She then spoke to the doctor: “About how long you think he can survive?”
“I couldn’t say,” doctor said, “There are people whose agony prolongs for days, even months. I knew of a woman whose agony lasted more than a year’ it all depends on the physical condition of the patient. The human body always refuses to die.”
“Do you think he will recover?” The nurse asked.
“Forget it; his agony is slow but inevitable; sooner or later, he’ll give up. I wouldn’t be surprised that he can see and hear us. The fact that his pulse accelerates sometimes may be an indication of anxiety or desperation, not always though. Everybody’s pulse accelerates once in a while for no apparent reason.” He said these words as he and the nurse made their way out of the room.
“I’m in agony,” he thought, feeling as if he were shaking inside. “I’m dying! What happened to me? Doctoooooooor, you’re wroooong, I’m O.K.!!! Maaan, I got just few days left in this world. What can I do? Evidently, I can do nothing, except think, and think, filling myself with desperation, with a helplessness in the face of something completely unavoidable.
““What a way to end my days in this world! I wouldn’t wish this even on my worst enemy. Now I understand what that nun poet meant in one of her poems, ‘I die because I don’t die.’
The agonizing man continued his soliloquy— “What about my wife, and my children? What are they going to do without me!! I’m very aware that I was not the best husband or father in the world, but I was not the worst either. I love them very much, and I’m sure they do love me too That is the way it is suppose to be. We are a common family, nothing extraordinary, of course, but we live with dignity, with good values. My children are conscious that we, the parents, are the highest authority in the house. I’ve heard them say it, not in my presence though: ‘Our parents are true parents.’ I am not going to feel that pride any more, that beautiful feeling of love and of being loved. I wish from the depth of my soul that everything goes right for them after I am gone. I always thought that I was going to die some day, but not in this way! Caramba!!! It is cruel, I think, because I can see and hear what’s going on around me in this hateful bed.
“Oh, how many things I’m not going to do any more, like going to bed giving a bad look to the alarm clock, or scraping the ice in winter, or mowing the yard, or cleaning up the patio, throwing away the trash, etc., etc., etc. And so many things that I really didn’t like doing, but I did them any way, trivialities if you will, but how important they are in these scarce moments of my life. I’m not going to see the sun any more coming up every day, early in the morning on my way to work, or the full moons from the porch in my beloved wife’s company. Contemplating the stars when the night is real dark is marvelous, always looking for a comet, or a shooting star. I am not going to enjoy the tasty dinners that my wife prepares any more. No more the happy company of relatives and friends. No more eight working hours. No more the tranquility of sitting down before the television to see the news after work, or a good movie, a good soccer game, and if there is nothing good (as it happens a lot a times) enjoy reading a good book.
“No, no, I refuse to die!! I still have a lot of things to do, the most important is to help my children to succeed in their education. How will they do it without my support? Of course, they can do it without me, but it sure will be harder for them. Oh, how hurtful it is not to be able to help them. How about my wife? what will she do without me? Oh, what a desperation!! How terrible my situation is!! I cannot explain this feeling. I am shaking all over!! I cry and yell with all my power, but I don’t hear myself!! Help me please, somebody help me pleeease!!!”
It was a Friday night. That man was not scheduled to work next day, so he decided to sleep late. He had the idea that if you dream, that means that you have slept very deeply, and that man for sure knew how to dream. Just placing the pillow standing and letting it surround the neck., that he could do. The thing is that he was not able to do was choose his dreams. That man woke up with his face all wet, jumped out of the bed and ran to the kitchen where his wife was preparing a good breakfast. He gave her a long, long hug.