I've spent a fair amount of time at the hospital these last few days. Hospitals are great places for people watching, so naturally I thought a few days at the hospital would provide all sorts of material suitable for commentary. However, I've discovered something: In order for me to observe and comment, I need to either be a) fired up about something or b) laughing. Turns out that having my precious little Ma in ICU provides neither the fire nor the laughter.
I'm rather surprised by this phenomenon. It's understandable that the usual chuckles would be absent, but it's the not-getting-fired-up about it all that has me surprised. My emotions are limited to a dull ache. I guess that in order to get fired up about something, you need an obvious opponent. Like a dragon.
Last night, while sitting in the ICU waiting room -- a room packed full of those suffering for loved ones -- it became clear that we all share that same dull ache. No fire, just ache. It's an ache that comes from the unknown. An uncertain future. No one has a clear understanding of what they're fighting.
In the left corner of this waiting room, there's a group who's son? husband? brother? uncle? friend? was injured seriously in a work-related accident. Their tears are interrupted occasionally with laughter brought upon by the verbal recollection of antics from his heathy days or with smiles that dote upon the cooing of a visiting baby. Slight rays of hope can be seen when comments are made along the lines of "he wiggled his left fingers today!" This injured one is Summy's next door neighbor. He has been asleep for his entire stay.
The right-corner of this waiting room houses a healthy bunch. This right-corner has been their corner for days. They have a constant flow of family and friends coming in to their right-hand territory to dine on pizza, burgers and ice cream. The family clown is providing comfort through humor as he orchestrates a baby/wedding shower trivia contest. What was Susie's first album? Was it a) Billy Joel's Cold Sprint Harbor, b) Led Zeppelin IV or c) The Sesame Street Monsters! An unmarried aunt is entertaining the young ones with puzzles and picture books. Her brother talks about breaking in his new fishing pole.
Behind us we have a family in the same situation as ours. A young grandma with a stroke. They quietly observe the party bunch in the right corner.
There are other small groups like ours that come in and out. They bring the kids with electronic gadgets that facilitate baby sitting via games and movies. They come to this waiting room, as a break from the hospital bed of their loved one, to make phone calls, cry unhindered, and breath.
The carpets in this room are stained and worn thin from 24-7 eating and worrying.
While I was waiting for my turn to visit my mom (the ICU people won't let more than two visitors in at a time), I watched my little Yahoos as they took in the disaster of that Transformer's 2 flick. Am I the only one that thinks this movie a disaster? Anyway, I watched their expressions and sighed a bit of relief for mom was doing much better today. Eating and complaining. Demanding two sandwiches for night time -- just in case. Watching Wimbledon, and, in her new husky voice, declaring passion for Serena's ability to "kick butt" and "wow look at her red panties."
This is where I thought, "Today is a frabjous day!" which led to the mental dissection of that term "Frabjous Day." Why, exactly, did the the little White Rabbit and the Hatter and the Tweedle Brothers declare the day that Alice has to fight the Jabberwocky as "Frabjous Day?" They all knew the future. They all knew that Alice would come to fight this beast; this dragon. And yet they still referred to the day of its happening as "Frabjous." Those Lewis Carroll characters were fired up and ready to support their fighter. So much so, that they declared it a "Frabjous Day." Why do you think they were all so fired up and hopeful?
It's prolly because they knew exactly what they were fighting - a giant, beastie, dragon-like creature named the Jabberwocky. A beast with "jaws that bite" and "claws that catch" and "eyes of flame, that came whiffling through the tulgey wood, and burbled as it came."
We humans in the ICU waiting room do not know what we're fighting. That's why we get the dull ache.
O Frabjous Day! Callooh Callay!