Alone But Reborn

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic
The story of a friendship between a lonely old man and a teenage boy, brought together by what seems like fate.

Submitted: October 27, 2013

A A A | A A A

Submitted: October 27, 2013



I first came into contact with Ray in beginning of the year 2001. He had signed up for a “pal” service in the hospital he was staying; I was the lucky guy that got be his pal. I remember the first day like it was yesterday. I was running late and everyone else on planet earth seemed to be to. The chaos through those narrow halls of the hospital gave off what I like to refer to as a sunday feeling. It feels like sunday. I, on the other hand, don’t feel like a sunday, i’m giving off more of a thursday and the people around me can tell that. I headed on over to the door of his room, number 1002, to find him sitting there, waiting for me, as if he could sit there and wait a lifetime and still wouldn’t give a damn.

“Hello, my name is Jack, I guess I’ll be hanging around here for a few days. Pleasure to meet you.” I said trying to sound proper and maybe a bit eloquent but my youthful tone betrayed me. Just as it is doing right now, as I’m telling you this story.

 “Ah, son. Sit, please. I know you’d rather be there anyways.” Ray replied, in that tone that I aspired for, it’s just more natural as you get older.

The rest of the day consisted of me visually digging a hole through the window as Ray sat there, smiling. That’s all he did, didn’t say a word, just smile. It wasn’t till the next day that he even gave me his name. Along with that name came more detail than I had expected.

“Ray isn’t my given name, more of the name I wish I had been given. Don’t ask for the real one son. You see, I promised myself that once I reached the age of 60 that I ought to be reborn. I’m 78 now, that ticker in there is bout to stop beating and couldn’t be more happier. I’m not happy of the life I’ve lived but the fact that I’m going to die with part of me already dead, leaving nothing but happiness in me.” He said this all to me slowly, thinking before every sentence. While he was talking he’d often stare off at the window, the sunlight beaming in and brightening up his green eyes. I half-nodded as a response because I didn’t really have much to say to that. All I initially wanted was the guy’s name and got that so it was now awkward and we continued to sit in silence as we did on the previous day. Part of me was curious as to why he buried his past, another part was creeped out by this, and lastly, the huge part left of me wanted out.

That night i actually tried talking to my dad to get me out of this pal service and into another program, i’m just not a people person. He said something along the lines of “Are you serious? You drop out of school, get into this DUI mess, and now after all I’ve done for you, you want more. Will you ever learn that life is not easy? That people are not always going to hand you everything? Alot of other people in this world have it a lot worse than you do jack, do you even realize that?” When will he learn that I won’t realize that cause, ugh-should I say it again, I’m just not a people person.

Next visit, I walked in while the nurse seemed to be adding another tube to his little collection. By that, I mean he was hooked up to several different machines, I don’t really know what all of them do. Hell, I didn’t even know what is wrong with his health to begin with. I decided to ask him about it since I should try talking to him instead of sitting in silence.

“With old age comes more problems, son. Once someone with my age is in here you never come out. And you see, everybody is going to die and when you’re as old as me, all you could ever do is just wait for it. I got myself in here cause I was tired of waiting, tired of that alone feeling that stayed with me even after I was reborn. You can’t ever escape it.” As he said this, something happened for the first time. The smile on his face left, it kept getting smaller and smaller as he kept going.

“You tried to kill yourself?”

He laughed, a real genuine laugh. “Why yes, that is what I just told you.” The smile was back on his face once again.

I had to chuckle because he was laughing. I didn’t quite get what was so funny but his laugh was very contagious and I also found his humor amusing. Now that he opened up a bit to me, i felt a lot more comfortable with him. We sat there talking about god knows what, our conversations had such fluidity; they’d bounce from one subject to the other, from politics to sports. He knew it all and was eager to spread his knowledge on me, just as i was eager to receive it. I left there excited for my next visit, I was sure it’d be different. I was sure that after the connection we made today, he’d tell me more of his past because my curiosity about him grew.

I was wrong. The next four visits consisted of the same conversations we had that day. I was dying to ask him something about his life but I didn’t know what to ask. Also, I didn’t want to ask something that he’d get mad at me for and we return back to day one. So I just waited for him to tell me something, cause he had to eventually talk about it.

“No, no, no. That book is about freedom and loving life. None of this rebellious stuff you kids nowadays wanna make it out to be. There is a difference between guys being rebellious and guys wanting to live life.”  

“Well, sometimes, you have to be rebellious to live life.”

His smile grew at my reply.

"What I would do to have a friend like you when I was a teenager.”

“What were your friends like if they weren’t like me?”

He quickly got sad at this and I immediately could tell so I decided to ask another question before he was able to reply to that. “Who got you those flowers?” I said pointing to the bouquet of blue orchids. Blue was his favorite color, that is was a nice fact I had learned and I remembered because it was mine too. “The nurse.”

“The nurse gives flowers to every patient?”

“No, just the ones who don’t got anybody to give them flowers. She’s nice, I’ve never felt so cared for,” he said with his eyes glistening. I just don’t understand why he has no one.

“You know, before I was old and bony, I was quite the bachelor. Just like I’m sure you are.”

I laughed at this. “You’d be surprised. Not everyone is into the short, average looking guy who dropped out of high school.”

“I dropped out of high school too. Back then was a simpler time though, very easy to make a quick buck. I used to look kind of like you, had the short black hair and shiny white teeth. Both of those are gone now,” he laughed at his own expense which made me laugh. That was it, though. That was the most about his past that he had given me on the fifth visit. It wasn’t much but I saw it as progress.

I walked into the hospital on my sixth visit to a shock, I opened the door to find an empty bed. I panicked and quickly ran to the front desk. I don’t know how the lady would be able to understand my gibberish, it was along the lines of “Ray-uh-where, the guy in-uh-uhm-1002?”; it took a couple of times before she was able to reply. To my relief, she told me he had just been moved to a different room. I began to worry again as the lady proceeded to tell me that we almost lost him last night and had to move him closer so he can get attention more immediately. Before I left, I gave her my number and asked to inform me next time something happens. I don’t need a heart attack at age 18.

“Thought I was done for a second there, son.”

He said this to me but I just continued to stare at him, pretty speechless. He now had even more tubes, I’m pretty sure one of them was helping him breathe. He looked so pale and I couldn’t believe this was the same guy I had just spoken to just a couple of days before.

“There is something I ought to tell you. Please don’t interrupt me, just listen is all I ask for.” I nodded and then he started.

“All my life, all my life I just wanted some love. Not that love between a husband and a wife, even though I wanted that too, but just the general affection that is love. I love my parents and siblings but I couldn’t show it. Between that and constantly being outshined by my siblings is what made me separate from them. My stupid frustration led me to turn away from the easiest unconditional love anyone can get, from his family, and after dropping out and moving away, I rarely ever spoke to my family if at all. Now my friends, they came and went, as friends are suppose to. I never actually had a best friend, I just kept to myself even though I would soon long for friendship. My whole life ended up being just me and I was fine with that in the beginning, till I realized it was gon stay like that forever. I couldn’t commit for the life of me, I mean I was a young bachelor and having fun with no attachments but then fun time was over and I was too old, at least I felt like I was. I felt that I shouldn’t look back at my life once I reached sixty, that I was now reborn, but that loneliness that I always felt still stayed with me so it didn’t do much good. I guess having the idea that I was reborn brings me comfort, you know.” He said that last sentence with a smile that I knew all too well.

“Yea I know. I’m the only child. My mom died when I was young and my dad is constantly putting pressure on me to be perfect. I’m turning out to be the exact opposite of the son he wanted and soon, I know, I’ll be just like you Ray. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. I like you.”

“Oh but son it is a bad thing. Please don’t settle for being like me, I care for you. As I just told you, my life consists of nothing but loneliness.” I shook my head violently after he said that.

“That is not true, you are not lonely right now. You have me.”

“Yes, son. I do,” he said with tears forming in his eyes, that smile never leaving his face.

That was the last visit with him. Two days later, the day of what would have been my seventh visit, I got a call in the morning from the lady at the desk who I gave my number to. He passed away in his sleep. I locked myself in my room and cried for what seemed like ages. Everytime I closed my eyes I saw his face, smiling at me, and it just made me cry more. I wish he hadn’t died in his sleep, I wish I was at least beside him so I could look up to him and say that even though he spent most of his life alone, he didn’t die alone. It just beat me up inside, and to think we had only known eachother for a couple of weeks. He understood me just as I understood him, we had this weird connection even if I still didn’t feel like I knew enough about him.

It wasn’t till after his death that I found out some important things about him. One was he never signed up for the pal service in the hospital. I was suppose to be given room 2004 but it was written incorrectly on the paper given to me and when I reported to the service that my pal was now dead, they gave me strange looks before realizing there was a mistake. I got under fire for this, even though it was not really my fault, and was removed from the service and now I’m picking up trash as my community service. I’m not mad about it at all, though. I don’t regret meeting Ray and the time I spent with him.

What I don’t get was why he decided to not tell me. I’m sure he knew that last day was most likely the last time we’d see each other, he just had that kind of insight. That’s why he told me more about his life. I wish I had seen that even at that point in time he still didn’t fully trust me. He thought I’d get mad or leave if he told me when I would have most definitely stayed. But I guess I get it, when you live life alone you become less trusting while taking every opportunity to simply spend time with another human being. The second thing I found out made me smile and want to tell his story all over again. His name was Jack.

© Copyright 2020 blacksheep. All rights reserved.

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