There are a lot of odd conversations you hear while sitting around the hospital. Some of the best are between families waiting around for their loved ones to get back from some test. Couches covered by people who are trying their best to be supportive of each other, even if silence is the only thing they can offer. Bits and pieces of words whispered, some to illicit a smile, others spoken in corners where pain and hurt are the only sounds coming forth.
A category of these are harder than others to hear, those dealing with children. Parents not knowing how much to say to their child who is laying in a bed, some who are being led away for yet another round of some hopeful miracle. Each time you want to shut out the topic, but you know you can’t. The looks along are enough to tell you the spaces where you can’t quite make out the words being choked out.
Seeing, hearing a set of parents talk about how they should just take their child home and spend time with them breaks your heart. It shatters your soul in a way that few things can. Getting to the point where someone has to recognize that the best thing is sometimes to do nothing, you want to tell them they are doing the right thing; but words aren’t your place. Averting your eyes is not an option either. Why make what is going to be the hardest decision these people face any more uncomfortable.
I’m working both sides of this equation, a guy with cancer and also someone who has lost a child. Some of the parents know this, have spoken with me about how I deal with it, the loss. I never know the right things to say. I can only tell them how it affects me. We are taught from a young age that our elders will be buried before us, rarely are we taught that the possibility exists that the universe sometimes has differing plans. Most times I just tell people they’ll get through it, eventually. The irony of telling them to never stop communicating, even about hurt feelings, angry moments isn’t lost on me. They’ll go to bed angry, sometimes with each other, maybe even in separate rooms. But silence is worse, so much worse.
Noise-cancelling headphones are a wonderful item to have at times. But the look on their faces tells more than any “fly on the wall” situation would allow for.
Next Sunday is Father’s Day, yet another in a line of days where I truly want to pull the covers over my face and wake up on Monday. Last year someone got to hear me talk about how abandoned I felt that day. I sat in a park not far from my house and was on the phone with a friend hundreds of miles away, upset. The ex had decided that it was an opportunity to jerk me around for the day, changing plans and leaving me alone when I was begging for just some company. Those poor parents just wanting to spend time with their kids, me pacing and waving my arms in total frustration.
Two sides of the same conversation. Me hearing those parents in the hospital not knowing how to deal, other parents watching me meltdown. Perspective is everything.
In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Hear No Evil.”