So many moments to remember. The 90 year old man in the ICU, head down, back hunched—I needed to hold his hand. I know it matters. Wife also hospitalized—lupus and dementia—he kept saying "oxygen." The defeatedness in his face. "Lymphoma" his first whispered words. The bright, white hospital light—too bright. There needed to be tenderness for this frail, strong man. As the resident and intern walk away, the patient turns to me, eyes bright and wide, hand still in mine, squeezing. I lean in close to listen: "I need oxygen or I get violent." The resident waits for me, at the door. O2 sat 94%, fine, but he was short of breath. Resident shrugs, "he's okay."
I wanted to stay. I wish I could do more. We are in the presence of such vulnerability, such humanness, and every little thing—touch, listen, glance, leaning—matters, I think, I hope, as I walk down the hall with the residents, back to our ward.
There have been a couple of encounters like this in the past weeks (another week gone by, already?). It's hard to stop and write and think. It's hard to collect my thoughts and process them. It's easy to let my emotions dictate myself. I wanted to write about Obama's State of the Union Address. About America the Philosophical. About e.e. cummings at Book Culture. But right now I need another kind of mental processing. I'm yearning, toiling, praying, loving.