On my last week of wards, when hospital work becomes so routine I could ghost in and out emergencies in minutes if needed, I bring a 2-pack of y-fronts. I tried to picture the heft of my patient while at the dollar store. I know so much that he has yet to tell me: how many bottles of Tylenol he knocked back, to start. He begins a case of Pabst in the morning and finishes before dinner. His husband of a quarter decade died a month ago. He didn’t arrange for someone to feed his mini schnauzer because the near dead don’t make plans. He may know I signed the order that stops him from going home to feed the schnauzer, but there’s a door between knowing and remembering. Today he’s washing his single pair of underpants in the sink as there’s no one to bring him more—near dead, plans. He won’t know I left the dad briefs with his nurse. He doesn’t know in the last year one of my friends died, one friend overdosed, one died of overdose. The near dead I know, the dead I know near me. This week I’m too sad to go home right after work, but I—arrogantly—have only planned time for the known dead. I know, plans: the first step towards failure. My dead don’t remember me, I know. This near dead man won’t either. Who can plan what ghost they leave behind?
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