Old Man Edward

The scene is thicker in here, more vibrant. Energy pierces the airwaves in purity, a serene resilience.

The hospital room has dimmed. The bright luminescence has quelled into a warm whisper.

Under his breath, the old man grunts quiet dissatisfaction, suffering sternly as his body begins to fail him.

Moving is an effort for him, every limb that budges, every lift of his head, to the back of his hospital bed, causes him pain.

To witness everything is to feel his energy. Sober and stout, crooked and callus, the old man has taken to whimpering softly in his sleep…

What is he dreaming? Where is he?

Earlier, he had mentioned that he was ready to be in the grave. He was comfortable as we lifted up the guard rails of his hospital bed, locking his crib in place…

“I’ve lived a full life”, the old man said…

“This could be my grave”

And, I couldn’t relate, though I know his troubles.

This man has tried to commit suicide.

He attempted to overdose on medication a few weeks ago and has since been admitted into the hospital where I work.

He’s spent the last few weeks wandering around the unit, peeking a stink eye at anybody who locked a stare with him. The man has a presence about him. An air of calamity that reaks of rust. Cold rust. His face, weather worn and rugged, grimaces every time he darts his eyes.

He’s not unapproachable, though he looks it.

And now, now I find myself sitting next to him as he breaths halfhazardly, mumbling in his sleep.

It makes me think of old age. What makes us whither and die.

As I’ve watched him doze in and out over the past hour, I have noticed a pattern disrupt in his sleep. Every 10-20 seconds, he mumbles something unintelligible. Every 30 seconds or so, he lifts his head up to peak out the glass door.

A pattern is there.

“Cut her me, I’ll kill him. I need the gas”

The old man scratches profusely at his groin, hand pulling erratically underneath his hospital gown.

And, like some dismantled clock work phenomena, once again he lifts his head up to glance at his surroundings. Quicker than I could finish that last sentence, he’s back to snoring…and now, muttering…

“So uh, you know “W” could be…ahhh I gotta thirst for it”

An exhale of breath, and the snoring routine resumes.

I expect to see his head pop up again any second.

I’ve really taken to the cranky old bastard. I think it was when he told me earlier,

“I’ve seen some things, I’ve had a full life”…

I inspected his chart, reading up on the events that led our paths to cross. He doesn’t want to live anymore. He’s resigned himself to death, in fact, he attempted to end it himself.

His explanation,

“My body doesn’t work likes it’s supposed to, I can barely walk and get about.”

I feel for the man, I’m with him and I understand, yet as I sit, as he explained to me the difficulty of his time on earth right now, I couldn’t help but try to shift his perspective. I think it happened when he told me that his peeing comes too easily. He needs to get to the restroom quickly, and frequently…

“I feel like it would be way worse to absolutely NEED to pee, but not being able to…now that, that would be torture”

The man mumbled what sounded like a solid agreement, but I can’t be sure…

“Ehrmm”, the man croaked,

He didn’t complain anymore after that…

“My lungs aren’t in nothing…grrrrrrr, ehrmmm, whoarph”

The man’s head cranes up, peering towards the glass doors again, squinting into the observation hall.


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