Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room.One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain the ftuid from his lungs. His bed was next to the room's only window. The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back.
The men talked for hours on end. They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in the military anda whole lot of things. Every afternoon, when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window.
The man in the other bed began to live for those one hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and color ofthe world outside.
The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake. Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats. Young lovers walked arm in arm amidst flowers of every color and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance.
As the man by the window described all this in exquisite detail, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine the picturesque scene.
One warm aftemoon, the man by the window described a parade passing by. Although the other man couldn't hear the band he could see it in his mind's eye as the gentleman by the window pojrtrayed it with descriptive words.
Days and weeks passed. one morning, the day nurse arrived to bring water for theirbaths only to find the lifeless body of the man by the window, who had died peacefully in his sleep. She was saddened and called the hospital attendants to take the body away.
As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to make the switch, and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone.
Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the real world outside. He strained to slowly tum to look out the window beside the bed. It faced a blank wall.
The man asked the nurse what could have compelled his deceased roommate to have described such wonderful things outside this window.The nurse responded that the man was blind and could not even see thewall. She said, "Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you."
When he told me he was leaving I felt like a vase which has just smashed. There were pieces of me all over the tidy, tan tiles. He kept talking, telling me why he was leaving, explaining it was for the best, I could do better, it was his fault and not mine. I had heard it before many times and yet somehow was still not immune; perhaps one did not become immune to such blow.
He left and I tried to get on with my life, I filled the kettle and put it on to boil, I took out my old red mug and filled it with coffee watching as each coffee granule slipped in to the mug. That was what my life had been like, endless omissions of coffee granules, somehow never managing to make that cup of coffee.
Somehow when the kettle piped its finishing waming I pretended not to hear it. That's what Mike's leaving had been like, sudden and with an awful finality. I would rather just wallow in uncertainty than have things finished.I laughed at myself. Imagine geffing all philosophical and sentimental about a mug of coffee. I must be getting old.
And yet it was a young woman who stared back at me from the mirror. A young woman full of promise and hope, a young woman with bright eyes and full lips just waiting to take on the world. I never loved Mike anyway. Besides there are more important things. More important than love, I insist to myselffirmly. The lid goes back on the coffee just like closure on the whole Mike experience.
He doesn't haunt my dreams as I feared that night. Instead I am flying far across fields and woods, looking down on those below me.Suddenly I fall to the ground and it is only when I wake up that I realize I was shot by a hunter, brought down by the burden of not the bullet but the soul of the man who shot it. I realize later, with some degree of understanding, that Mike was the hunter holding me down and I am the bird that longs to fly. The next rught my dream is similar to the previous
nights, but without the hunter.I fly free until I meet another bird who flies with me in perfect harmony. I realize with some relief that there is a bird out there for me, there is another person, not necessarily a lover perhaps just a friend, but there is someone out there who is my soul mate. I think about being a broken vase again and realize that I have glued myself back together, what Mike has is merely a little part of my time in earth, a little understanding of my physicalbeing. He has only, a little piece ofme.