It was Friday, the weekend not far away. It always seems that hospital people step lightly on Fridays, hurrying to get work done in anticipation of a few days off, the kids' soccer game, a concert, a dinner out. Upbeat, if you will.
So when the elevator door opened and he walked in, it was very different. I recognized him immediately for I had cared for him years before. Gentle, kind man, usually with a smile, a polite nod. He was always with his wife. His a heart rhythm problem as I recalled. Now he and I alone. I struggled to remember his name.
His look was very different that I had remembered. This time, the smile was very brief, tired. His face and frame much thinner. He looked away, fumbling for the elevator button, found it, and leaned back against the wall. There, peeking out from beneath the right-hand side of his shirt were the edges of a bag and tubing. The diagnosis and prognosis now plainly coming into view.
It was hard to speak, not knowing what to say, so we just waited together, feeling the elevator travel its one short floor. Suddenly, the door opened again, our time together too brief, our earlier time so trivial in comparison. His journey much different now. I was lost for words but said goodbye. I could tell his mind was elsewhere. Anywhere but Friday.
It was so brief, telling, humbling, and real.
I'll never forget, sir.