Such an innocent picture, a bed neatly made.
Such a dark meaning.
We entered the palliative care unit for a visit with our friend Tessa. She is in a small private room that is fronted by a tiny waiting area off which there are only two rooms, hers and anothers. Every time we've visited we've been part of a small group that was divided by 'she who is in the left room' and 'she who is in the right room'. This time however, the left room was left empty.
The bed was made.
The bed was waiting.
For the next. Not the last.
Tessa was not having a great day. Breath is becoming more difficult. Fear becoming more of a constant companion rather than and pop in visitor. She was sitting up on the side of the bed. I remembered, suddenly, the rush of euphoria I had had when I left, for the first time, the Intensive Care bed that I had laid in for days. Was that years ago now? Wow. I realized, as only one who is in a wheelchair can realize. If you can sit - you can move.
I suggested to Tessa that we get a wheelchair and head downstairs for tea. She simply nodded. She wanted away from the oppressive realization of the empty bed next door. She rolled into the coffee area, surrounded by the loudness of life, the quick moves of the healthy. She sipped tea and listened to us talk. She spoke of her fears, briefly, and then realized that she had thought she was never going to leave the room she was in. Yet here she was, surrounded by wailing babies, having her voice drowned out by people shouting orders to the clerk working the counter, have the sense of being normal in abnormal circumstances. She brightened. Absolutely brightened. She relaxed back into the comfort of the wheelchair and simply enjoyed her tea.
It was only a moment.
A simple moment.
But it mattered.
And it was made available by a chair on wheels. A chair that can take someone from one place to another, from home to work, from theatre to restaurant, even, from deaths door to coffee shop table.
I don't know who first put wheels on a chair but when the roll is called up yonder, paradoxically, I'll stand them a drink.
Because, for just a few minutes, we were able to take our friend a little bit away, from the bed next door.