Thursday, August 17, 2006
Beautiful Girl Hair
Today I was called to the bedside of a woman who had just died in one of our intensive care units. Her husband and daughter and several other family members were there, staring at her, grieving. I focused almost immediately on her husband (I did not know his relationship at the time) as he wore a look of utter despair.
I took his empty hand and spoke calmly with him for a few minutes, reassuring him that feeling pain at the loss of someone we love is not selfishness, nor is it wrong to wish they were still here even if that meant more suffering. These feelings are the other side of love.
Their daughter sat down next to us eventually and turned my attention toward her. After establishing that her mother had been sick for some time she told me that she felt numb. She had been crying and grieving for the past three days as they watched their mother fade, but now she felt very little. I reassured her that the emotions of grief often make very little rational sense and that they move in and out like storms, often unexpectedly. She nodded in agreement and said "I'm sure I'll hurt more later on, but I just have to say, you have great hair. I'm sorry, I know this isn't the right time, but I just had to say that."
We both laughed and I assured her that I would have to share that with my wife who encourages me to keep it the way it is.
When I was younger I played a video-game called "Sam N Max: Hit the Road," which I credit with shaping my sense of humor. In the game you controlled a cartoon dog and rabbit, trying to solve the mystery of missing sideshow attractions. You could controll the dialogue by selecting from four choices of types of responses. You could push the "?" and they would ask a question, the "!" and they would say something intense, or you could push the image of a rubber duck and they would say something non-sequiter. From time to time in my life, especially in the hospital, I get the feeling someone is enjoying pushing the duck button.
Posted by M. Lumpkin at 4:01 PM