WHO AM I?
And how, I wonder, will this story end?
The sun has come up and I am sitting by a window that is foggy with the breath of a life gone by. I’m a sight this morning: two shirts, heavy pants, a scarf around my neck and a thick sweater knitted by my daughter thirty birthdays ago. Still my body shivers with a cold that will never go away, because I am eighty years old. Eighty years. I wonder if this is how it is for everyone my age.
I am nothing special, of this, I am sure. I am a common man with common thoughts, and I’ve led a common life. There are no monuments dedicated to me and my name will soon be forgotten, but I’ve loved another with all my heart and soul, and to me this has always been enough.
The romantics would call this a love story; the cynics would call it a tragedy. In my mind it’s a little bit of both, and no matter how you choose to view it in the end, it does not change the fact that it involves a great deal of my life. I have no complaints about the path I have chosen to follow and the places it has taken me — the path has always been the right one.
I cough, and through squinted eyes, I check my watch. I realize it is time to go. I stand and shuffle across the room stopping at the desk to pick up the notebook I have read a hundred times. I put it beneath my arm and continue on my way to the place I must go.
I walk on tiled floors. I’m the only one in the hallway this morning. They are in their rooms, alone except for television, but they, like me, are used to it. A person can get used to anything, if there is enough time.
I hear the sounds of crying in the distance and know who is making them. The nurses see me, and we smile and exchange greetings. I am sure they wonder about me and the things that I go through every day. I listen as they begin to whisper among themselves when I pass.
«There he goes again.» I hear. «I hope it turns out well.» But they say nothing directly to me about it.
A minute later, I reach the room. The door is open for me, as usual. There are two nurses in the room, and as I enter they say «Good morning» with cheery voices, and I take a moment to ask about the kids and the schools and upcoming vacations. We talk above the crying for a minute or so. It seems they do not notice it: they have become numb to it, and so have I.
Afterwards I sit in the chair. They are finishing up now; her clothes are on, but she is crying. It will become quieter after they leave. I know. The excitement of the morning always upsets her, and today is no exception. Finally, the nurses walk out. Both of them touch me and smile as they walk by.
I sit for just a second and stare at her, but she doesn’t return the look. I understand, for she doesn’t know who I am. I’m a stranger to her. Then, turning away, I bow my head and pray silently for the strength I know I will need.
Ready now. On go the glasses, out of my pocket comes a magnifier.
There is always a moment right before I begin to read the story when I wonder if it will happen today. I don’t know, for I never know beforehand and deep down it really doesn’t matter. It’s the possibility that keeps me going. And though you may call me a dreamer or a fool, I believe that anything is possible.
I realize that science is against me. But science is not the total answer. This I know, this I have learned in my lifetime. And that leaves me with the belief that miracles, no matter how inexplicable or unbelievable, are real and can occur without regard to the natural order of things. So once again, just as I do every day, I begin to read the notebook aloud, so that she can hear it, in the hope that the miracle that has come to dominate my life will once again prevail.
And maybe, just maybe, it will.