THE FRIEND —

  He was a retired physician

   Well respected I am told

A GP from the days when doctors really knew their patients

   Strapped  into a geriatric chair at  Hillsdale Nursing Home

His grey hair in cloud-like wisps 

Bound in blue plaid restraints

His gown barely covering his scrotum

   Without visitors I was told

   Like so many others

   Calling out in scratchy voice–

  "Death is my friend, my friend

  "Where is my friend?

  Then fall asleep again, then wake up

   A constant maddening refrain known to all

   He said nothing else—

   "Death is my friend, my friend

   "Where is my friend?

   Everyone ignored him

  They squirmed when he called out 

   The staff tried to quiet him

   Other patients and families gasped

   I walked past him quickly

   Opened one eye just enough

   He saw my stethoscope around my neck 

   Beckoned me with a bony finger

"Come here, come here" in a dry raspy voice

"I need to tell you….,

" very important, very important

     Nurse Jackson was shocked to hear him speaking at all

"Come here, come over here and listen to me"

He said nothing but had my fingers in a bony grip

"I know you" he squinted deeply

  I leaned in, hesitating

" I was wrong" he croaked barely audible

  His face changed, he looked off into space

     " All those years 

   "I was wrong

    I tried pulling away, he tugged harder

   "I was like you, once

 "I thought I knew……"

   

 " Look at me!! He rasped loudly

  His grey eyes were red/clear and large

    "All those years….." He drifted but returned

" I thought death, the enemy, like you do but…

  He drifted off again then  grabbed my hand hard

  "Time will come

 "You will know……

" Now I know–death is my friend

  " Where is my friend…….Where is he?

  " Is he here yet?………

   

 

  

Leave a Reply