The hospital is heavy with the thickness of life and death.

My friend’s pregnant wife cries when she sees him. “Oh, Dai, I’ve been trying to get a hold of you.”

“What’s wrong?” Dai asks; our barbecue joint beer still on his breath.

“I’m bleeding,” she says. I take three steps back and shut the door to her room and sit on a hard wooden bench in the hallway. Disembodied voices echo down long corridors of institutional grey and beige. Somewhere a television laughs canned hilarity.

Hours pass. Nurse green, doctor blue, medical staff personnel enter and exit Mary’s room as though it were a voting booth. A security guard strolls past wearing a cheesy little mustache and a smirky little smile, his sense of self wrapped up in his job.

Employees prepare to clock out and go home, as good natured as they can be. They pass me by with the smiles of a civilization’s safety net, that web of humanity we all exist within, and the frailness of our beings would stagger me if I weren’t already immobile.

Happy family number one take their baby twins home in a double carriage. A young couple waits with their swaddled infant while a new grandfather goes downstairs to bring the car around. Somebody’s boyfriend shows up with flowers and a blissful grin.

My friends won’t be taking anyone home with them.

A long night of sorrow is just the beginning.

And the end.


photo courtesy of my sister, Norma Coursey. (she hit me with a lamp and threatened to sue)


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