A somewhat tall, but not overly, man sat next to a hospital bed. His elbows were propped on his knees with his hands extended to his lowered temples. There was a glowing red tint to his forehead, yet most of his face bore a pasty white complexion. He peeked up just under his left hand’s fingers that lay across his hairline to take in the life of the room.
The heart monitor beeped steadily, showing a pulse somewhere in the seventies. He wasn’t quite sure of the number after the seven because of the stickiness his contacts had from his lack of rest and relaxation. The floor was as clean as one could expect a hospital room’s floor could be. The light of the morning peeking through the blinds seared into the far wall, reflecting just a bit off the ammonia mopped floor. The pink water mug sweated onto the over the bed tray leaving a puddle that formed an almost perfect circle. The lights had been shut off a few hours before. One of the fluorescent bulbs had been flickering anyway.
The sheets were crisp, almost as if the bed were still made, and they had just came straight from the hospital’s laundry room, specially ordered. The man could not tell if they used a particular detergent or any form of dryer sheets when he sucked in a quick breath of air through his nostrils. There was not much time for worrying over such trivial things, he thought. Or was there? She may never wake up. There may be an infinite amount of time to ponder over the choice of the hospital’s linen cleaners.
There may be forever. If there was such a thing.
Could he wait forever? What did it really matter? Was life really worth living without her? He could ask himself a million questions a million times over and would never come to an absolute conclusion. In life, there was always a gray area, a gray area of thought. The human mind cannot calculate the absolutes of black and white, right or wrong. It can only present questions. Some questions would inevitably be moral. Others would linger on the trivial of using Gain or All or some other non name brand laundry detergent. Is there a right and wrong in the universe? Is one decision more right than another? Would it be wrong to leave her bedside and go home to catch up on the dreams he now sorely missed? Maybe life really is about questions, and not particularly about answers. Just as the final destination can never be as sweet as the journey. If she woke and saw him there, by her bedside, her true lover, would it change things? Would she forgive him? Could he forgive himself? Or did it matter? Those were only more questions. And who has an answer to the questions life presents? Is it God? Does he have the answers that man searches for? There’s not a special rule book to guide one through life. What? The Bible? Translated, books left out, interpreted vastly different from one another, the Holy Bible? Why isn’t there a solid rulebook, or just some general guidelines for all situations? It could be that all questions in life are ultimately trivial. Morale could, in actuality be nonexistent. Gray areas, black areas, and white areas may not really be all that different. They’re not very eye pleasing colors anyway.
The man tried to wrap his head around the growing pile of questions that he had wondered into. He was staring at the IV that punctured a vein in her left wrist. The nurse could not find a vein farther up her forearm, and had to place it near the bed-ridden hand. The bag was still nearly full, letting off tiny drips that would circulate into her bloodstream. She looked so peaceful, serene, as if she had never been calm in her life and now was her chance to rest.
The man shuffled in his seat before leaning back to stretch his tired limbs. He pushed his upper back over the edge of the chair and leaned the back of his head closer to the wall to crack the column of bones leading up to his spinal cord. Then came the first sigh of relief he had in over twenty-four hours.
The surgeon tried to tell him the operation was a success and that she should regain consciousness sometime in the next few days, but…
That is always the tricky part. There is always a “but” in life, just as there is always a question that is followed by another question. There is always a gray area. But, there’s a chance she may never wake up.
She may never wake up and not be the same person if she did. She may not forgive him. He may not get the chance to tell her, to tell her he loves her. Life is all about uncertainty, a gray area. That is why ultimate decisions, final outcomes, are not what is important. It is the wait to tell her he loves her. It is the words leaving his mouth. What becomes of it does not matter. Or does it? Would if he was wrong and the destination is actually more important than the long, arduous journey.
She was so peaceful, almost too quite to be sleeping. He wondered if he could just reach his hand over and nudge her shoulder, would she wake up? He had already began to go through his stages of thought and emotion when dealing with life altering situations. He had gone through his anger phase, striking blows to everything near him, which had, at that moment, been his car. He never struck in a violent manner that a wife-beater would use, but in a way that longed for a deeper purpose in life. An answer. He searched for some release that was unknown to him until he reached a mental state beyond anger, a calmness that held its poise somewhere between life and death, the ability to feel and the lack of touch. The knuckles of his right hand still held the shallow cuts and bruises that signified this point of mental un-clarity.
His mind then went into a state of depression. The depression it had held was one of an utter lack of comprehension. There were no questions, just as there would have been no answers if he had them to ask. Depression for the man is a point where he did not have the need for either of them. There was no need to curse a higher power or to throw two arms to the heavens and ask for something he wanted or something he needed. The man was no longer a man. He was nothing. His existence was trivial.
Now he was questioning. Was he in denial? There were questions upon questions that would not be answered. He knew this. Mental un-clarity, did that mean he was in disbelief or still in the late stages of depression? On the other hand, had he entered a new realm of emotion, one in which highly educated psychologists could not coin a term for? He knew he saw her there, lying beneath the crisp sheets. He knew he looked at her from a chair in room 128B. He did not know if she would ever wake, or if she would forgive him. Would she blame him?
He blamed himself.