There were only the two of us making our way back and forth in our small section of the hospital. Identical green flowered gowns; identical blue treaded socks. We smiled like people do in hospitals; there’s no reason not to and we need no formal introduction; we are both there because we are not well. Just by being on the cardiac ward, we know a good bit about each other already.
She had a gentle ready smile and short greying hair. Her eyes smiled, too. We passed each other several times before I told her that the blue dots on the floor were 10 feet apart so we would have to pass 528 of them to have walked a mile. Since what we were doing was little more than shuffling, we giggled.
Her husband slept in the chair by her bed, so at some point we stopped and leaned back on the hand railings and chatted a bit, giving brief synopses of what had happened and what tests we had had…when we would likely go home. Nurses and attendants passing by smiled at our new found friendship. We both had been lucky; no serious issues had been found and we shared our gratitude in that. She declared, “I tell my friends who complain all the time about their aches and pains and I tell them to go up to the hospital…like the ICU or the seventh floor…that’s the neurology floor…if you want to see some pitiful people. Then they would be grateful.”
I agreed and shared my thoughts of how I think the hospital is a holy place, especially because of all the praying going on and all the spirits coming into the world and the spirits being released. Her smile released and then she leaned her head in toward me and in a hushed tone asked, “When you die, your spirit is released, right?” I nodded, “Yes.” “I worry about this; if I were to die in here, would my spirit get trapped in here? You know there are four or five people dying in here every day.” I touched her arm, “No, darling, spirit is spirit. Spirit moves easily through walls. Your spirit would not get trapped.”
She straightened up with tears in her eyes. Her relief brought tears to my eyes, too, so I looked away. We both took deep breaths and decided we had hiked far enough for the day and perhaps a nap was in order.
Before she was discharged, she came to my room to ask my name and said, “There are Strattons in Iva. They run the grocery store. They’re real fine people…real fine people…good people.”
I’ll take it.