A blustery fall day - And its gonna rain - hard!
Adam is in the ICU once again. He is fifty-three years old and over the last thirty-five years he has been hospitalized many times. The length of stay and frequency of his visits have increased dramatically during the these last four months.
But this time, it was different. Somehow, I just knew it was different, this time. And so I went.
A couple of weeks ago, when we visited him in the hospital, I felt as though he was entertaining me in his home. He apologized for not getting himself cleaned up that day. He told me that he couldn’t seem to get it together to shower or shave. He said that he hadn’t even changed his bed or his “clothes”. By clothes, of course, he meant the freshly laundered gown that lay stacked on the visitor’s chair, along with clean sheets and pillow cases. Like a good host, he popped up out of bed, removed the laundry from the chair and pulled it up for me to sit on.
Although he was clearly happy to see me, he wanted to know why I came empty handed. He was hoping for a Big Mac. I told him that according to Doctor’s orders, Micky D’s was not on the approved dietary list.
As we sat and visited, he began to reflect, as he often does. He wished he could be sure that he had at least six more good months left.
I asked him what he would do with those six precious months. He did have his list. Some of the things he wanted to do “just one more time” may have sounded unusual or even disturbing to someone who doesn’t know him like I do. But, I wasn’t shocked by those things.
I was surprised, though, about one thing and enlightened by another.
Adam has always fancied himself to be a great, but just not discovered yet, rock star guitarist. One of the things on his list was to be able to play his guitar and record some songs. I knew he played the guitar. But I guess I always thought it was something he just fooled around with. In fact, I can’t recall if I ever heard him play.
I felt sad when he told me about that one, because it reminded me of Joe. Joe loved his music and also played the guitar. But, I can’t recall that I ever hear him play either.
As we talked, Adam mentioned that he wanted to see his “girlfriend”, Trish. He said he missed her.
At another time I probably would have been very judgmental about that request. I would have gotten all huffy and would have reminded him that she was just using him. I would have tried to make him understand that he was better off without her. Perhaps it was the wistful way he expressed his longing to see her or the tender look in his eyes when he spoke of her, but at that moment, I had great compassion for him. After all of these years, I finally understood him, at least some part of him.
I’m not sure why it was such a big revelation for me. Well, I take that back. I do know why I had this sudden clarity. As I sat and listened to him, the cluttered and cloudy mist of the past seemed to dissipate. We reminisced about the many times I took him to the park and pushed him on the swings.
I thought about how long it took me, brick by brick, to build the wall I created to keep him out.
But that day, the wall came tumbling down, and I what I saw was simply my brother. A fellow human who only wanted the basic things that we all want.
For one it’s recognition. I’m here, notice me, hear me, I have a voice. Another is the connections we have to one another. To not be alone and never be lonely. And finally, but most importantly, is love.
I’m almost positive that Adam will never see his Trish again. And I am sorry about that. We, his family, can and will be there for him, but I know it’s not the same.
I hope Adam does get to play and record his music. Perhaps he will finally be discovered, at least by me, anyway.
And next time, when he gets better, as I promised, I will sneak in a Big Mac for him.