Fragments

written on October 6th and 7th of 2014 while in the waiting room of the hospital where my father died in 2006

I feel an unspeakable pain

The hospital is a window to another world

In the waiting room, an elderly couple sits across from me. A woman and a man enter, sit at a table. The woman is crying. The man mentions there are no tissues. The elderly woman rummages through her purse, finds a tissue, and takes it to the crying woman. The phone rings. The crying woman answers it but cannot speak. The man takes the phone and explains to the caller that the crying woman's mother will be taken off life support and will not die for another few days. The man and woman get up to leave but the woman pauses before opening the door and thanks the elderly woman for the tissue. I imagine she will always remember that one act of kindness. All of this makes me cry.

Another woman comes into the room later. She is also on the phone with someone. She says she is "all tore up" over her sister who is dying of uterine cancer. The dying sister told her, "I wanna die. I wanna die. I wanna go to heaven. I wanna go to heaven."

This place is outside life, outside the world, or is it at the very heart of it?

People arrive here and never leave.

Families gather.

I hate being here, the place where my father died. To be here is always traumatic. Is he still here? Do the hallways and rooms remember him?

The gravity of this place.

Terrified of ending up here not as a visitor but as a patient.

Hospitals make the body visible, mortal. You feel like an embodied person.

People are dying and the trees keep swaying. Our breath stops but the wind never does.

We turn off life support and continue. We gather around deathbeds and continue. We grieve and continue.

We delay death but do not destroy. How I long to destroy it.

I know what it's like to enter a hospital as one person and to leave as another. The hospital is the threshold between life and death, between before and after.