It was always a sad sign that, the elderly nurse walking through the corridor clutching religiously those white orchids of hers or sometime a beautiful solitary rose. Today she’d chosen the rose, a glorious red rose gleaming with beauty and life, ironic a cynic would normally claim- a fellow nurse whispering in my ear, but not today. Perhaps on other days I would have joined in too, it was always a way of coping- others if they were to overhear such talk would deem us cruel. But they have no idea. To see death as an old friend as we do, the sole constant of our work, every day returning to complete his task, the never ending rota never seeming to tire or slow him down, (I know our rota tries just as hard to tire us). The sack weighed heavy on his shoulders today, thirty taken today, mostly those of old.
They clambered into his forced embrace easily, some welcome him, stood there beaming- like a reunion arms spread wide. Pondering happier times, memories slowly fade. He is the one who takes them away from all they have known, he does not promise them fantastical spires, marble fabrications and dreams high up in the sky but they do not expect him too. He cannot promise, not even death knows what fully lies beyond our realm. They greet him with a simple smile and a handshake, ready, willing for him to be their guide into whatever the universe has in store for them next. Some do wish for those very spires, a great and harmony filled utopia spanning the journey ahead of them, I myself share this very thought, if life is such a beautiful and joyous creation, shouldn’t death be mirrored so?
Others fear him. Others see him as a thief of the cruellest design; he takes their most precious of possessions. They cower there as he enters the room, death literally looms over them, that sinister arched grin affixed upon his face. They try to barter with him, offer him memories, accomplishments tasks that still need time to be completed, they most show him that they still have worth, and it isn’t yet time they often mutter. He just stares back and they know- for every time I’ve heard that, I imagine they realise the truth as they join him in the void. I always hate it when they go like that, clinging on to the loose folds of life’s great tapestry, I don’t hate them, I completely understand their actions- who knows I may too take that path when death presents the fork in the road but I hope that I have the strength to face death, not as an enemy or foe but as an old friend.
I shake the thought from my head but it still weighs heavy on me, it catches on my hair and dances upon my being, it is with me always and will linger with me until I meet the fate that is oft at the forefront of mind. I once again try to snap back into focus, I remind myself I am not yet part of the death that stills clings to this place, still seen in the back of old photographs, memories rotten, cancer ridden. She catches the corner of my eye and I am brought back, I am not yet a spirit free to ponder and cascade these halls. I am still first and foremost a nurse here. I wave at her the lady with the red rose, as you might wave at a stranger or an acquaintance with whom their name sits idly on the tongue. She gives a polite curt nod and smiles fondly, as if remembering an idyllic memory or a loved one, I feel guilty why does she always greet me so fondly? We hardly speak, none of us nurses really do.
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