In the hospital I had a roommate named Maureen. I am not sure of many facts about her. She is Catholic, she taught, but what? She lives in another neighborhood quite different than Clintonville. She is 70 years old - three more years than me of hard-gained wisdom and bad health. I can't type as fast as I can think, so what to include about this brief friendship? These "facts" are nothing.
We lay there side by side, a curtain between us and talked. Two women with little in common. When I first saw her (on her way past my bed to the bathroom, escorted) she did not look like "my kind of person." Whatever. Can I like someone who dies her hair very black? Her hair all fell out when she was treated for something, and she wished it wouldn't come back all gray, but it did. That first day she did not look friendly. Me neither, I suspect. We were both really ill.
We lay there and watched NBC news together at 7:00 a.m., up and dying for breakfast. It was especially bad the day I was on "nothing by mouth," not even water. We commented on that horrible Mel Gibson, in perfect agreement. We might have been friends for 40 years. There is something about being totally down to nothing but a hospital gown and a heart monitor, past combing your hair.
You could do this other thing in a hospital bed, ponder how you keep getting closer to death awfully fast. But I don't know. She told me how after her colostomy for some reason she had to be flat on her back in bed on a feeding tube for two months. She said, "I just kept saying to myself, 'I'm still alive.'" Her tone was accepting. I still have something precious here. You can do the other thing, believe me, think about all you have lost - it's hard to keep up with it, you lose so many small abilities day after day. Or you can think about what you still have, who you still are, what you can do now.