November 1, 2013

on the edge of the night

It's the terror of knowing
What this world is about
Watching some good friends
Screaming 'Let me out'

Turned away from it all like a blind man
Sat on a fence but it don't work
Keep coming up with love
but it's so slashed and torn
Why - why - why ?

 'Cause love's such an old fashioned word
And love dares you to care for
The people on the edge of the Night
And love dares you to change our way of
Caring about ourselves
 - Freddie Mercury & David Bowie

     For the sake of my back and shoulder, I headed straight for the comfortable chair of the waiting room.  As I filled out hospital forms relating to my son's stay, in my peripheral vision was a man who was pacing and fidgeting.  Not unusual in the waiting room of a psych hospital.  But something about him seemed to want to get my attention.  As soon as I raised my eyes from the form, he approached me.  The me of five years ago would've been chastising myself for making eye contact with him and looking for a way to avoid any further interaction with someone who clearly was mentally sick. But now, I looked at him as just a human being, albeit one who is suffering from a deadly disease.  
     "C-c-can I borrow your ph-ph-phone?  Mine is d-d-dead," he asked haltingly.  Without hesitation, I unlocked my phone and handed it to him and then went back to filling out my forms.  I could tell his first call didn't pan out.  His second call apparently struck success.  He handed the phone back and was quite thankful.
     "Did you get your ride settled?" I asked him.
     "Yup.  I j-j-just have to walk over t-t-to the Taco B-b-bell."
     "Come on.  I'll give you a ride."  He at first resisted but I pointed out it was starting to rain and I was going that way anyways.  He accepted and we began to talk.
     "Why were you there?"  I guess he knew I wasn't ill so he wasn't sure what I was doing there.  Perhaps he was a bit paranoid.
     "My son."
     "How old is he?"
     "M-m-man, I wish somebody had d-d-done something for m-m-me when I was 17.  I got off my meds.  That's why I-m-m-m like this now.  Did he do drugs?
     "Yup.  He was self-medicating before we found out he was sick."
     "Yeah......we do that," his voice trailed off, filled with sadness.
     When I dropped him off, he told me to keep fighting for my son (he has no idea).  I, in turn, shook his hand and told him he needs to stay on his meds.  In some ways, we weren't speaking to each other.  He was wishing someone had helped him more when he was young.  And I was wishing that I will not have to bury my son due to this illness.


Anonymous said...

Please keep writing, don't stop. There is hope. Hang on, and never give up.

Jess said...

I found your blog when googling these lyrics. I've heard the song for years, but only recently actually noticed the lyrics. As a nurse, the part about caring for the people at the edge of the night really resonates, and I'm thinking about posting it somewhere at work.

I don't trust doctors in general. I need to see one. If you happened to live around here and have a practice, I'd go see you in a heartbeat based on your writing here. But that's not the case. Let me know if you ever decide for some reason to move to rural Nevada.

Isaac Van Sligtenhorst said...

That's awfully kind of you. I hope you find a good doc. I'll be the first to admit that good ones are hard to find BUT they do exist!