Thursday, October 10, 2013

You Can't Say You Weren't Warned

He looked ahead, seeing his feet on the hearth. There was smoke rising from one of the three logs, and he marveled at the small flicker of flame that stretched up and ignited the smoke that swirled above the log, dancing briefly somewhat joyously, then gone again, smoke returning.

 "You can't say you weren't warned," she said.

He sat, reflecting on her words. So much years of work, so much effort, breadwinner, worker, eager participant in so many others' life-and-death moments. That was his job, right?  It was his aphrodisiac, his salve, his calling for so long. Always being there for others, on call with pager on, nurses and Emergency Rooms calling.  But now, after the sun has long set in a quiet house with his wife and blind, loving cocker spaniel next to him, he reflected: "Where did the time go?"

"You can't say you weren't warned."

With that, the door opened.  The young man entered, unshaven, hurried and preoccupied, but seemed happy.  So much was happening, albeit it was his own separate calling, full of its own challenges and pressures.  He sprung to his feet to greet the young man, remembering when he had been in a similar place at a much earlier time: anxious, uncertain, excited, like when he directed his the first real code - so much responsibility.

 "Happy birthday, Dad," the young man said.

They hugged, shared a story together, then a piece of cake. Before he knew it, "I wish I could stay longer, but I have to go.  I've still got a ton to do."

"I understand. You'll do fine. Thanks for coming over.  Good luck."  And after grabbing the remaining piece of cake to bring to his roommate, the young man left as quickly as he had come.  His wife, exhausted after a long day herself, headed to bed and left him to close up for the night.

He went to the front door, placed his hand on the lock and stood for a moment.  The porch light shone dimly on the front walkway as it had done for so many years, a guide for the inevitable late night arrival that would always enter later.

Until now.

The house stood eerily silent, a stark reminder of all that has happened while he was busy doing other things.  He turned the lock, switched off the unnecessary porch light, then headed to bed as her words echoed:

"You can't say you weren't warned."



Don Ketterhagen said...

Great reflection on an aging physician's annual marking of the passage of time.

Jay said...

"My boy was just like me." Ouch.

Devastating and beautiful.

Keep writing.


Anonymous said...


When you blow out of that salt mine you work in day, you'll leave it all behind almost like it never really happened. Then, you will live this other life you speak of, and it's not too late.