My Friend Jim
My friend Jim sits like still water, soft, unmoving in his assigned seat. No leaving without permission. Rise only if the wheels are locked and the bed rail is nearby, or a nurse. Them’s the rules, partner. These feet don’t go nowhere without a steel friend. He sits half to the window, half to the wall, bearing witness to this extraordinary corner of real, whether-you-like-it-or-not life. The Mystery abides here, both foe and companion. Dare I enter this quietness with my outside bustle and cold January hands?
Hey Mr. Jim….
Ah-h the face of Jesus. Come in my Dear. So good to see you….
Is this a good time?
Of course, of course!
There is a monastic, painful wonder in which his days are held. The loudspeaker in the hall clamors for nursing staff to come immediately to the dining room. Someone moans across the hall. But this, the farthermost room from the nurse’s station, is a bastion of morphine-driven, slowed-down life, flavored with a precious, fierce love.
We all drop in, self-proclaimed members of the “Barnes and Noble Temple of Heretics.”
Hey Rabbi, we miss you! We need you back at B&N.
He smiles, great effort at strength and conviction.
I’ll be back. I’ll be out in two months, they say. Back home. Goodbye University Park Care Center. And, by the way, today I walked with the walker to the nurse’s station!
All that training in the healing power of mind and spirit. Focus the mind only on what you want. Ask Jesus, your guides, your inner healer, the Holy Spirit. See it. Feel it. Know it. And it IS!
I flip over the coin, peeking underneath. Ah-h…lonely. Years of lonely days piled one on the other. Heaped out back and covered with a tarpaulin. Now adding another layer of goddamn nursing home and medical trauma loneliness. We mostly do not see or name this. We don’t name heartache or longing or grief. But they are alive and well, thank you, orphaned by the “right” way to heal and the need to entertain visitors. I wonder about the orphaning of such deep feelings. I want to say, wait, let’s name and hold them…..
And if it’s not on the no-no list, we might even wander together into the land of sacred dying. You know–that universal back-up plan….
When I see your face, my friend, I wonder about this inner struggle. When I hear what you don’t say, I step softly in among the lily pads. I don’t mind. Loneliness is my familiar, a nemesis and teacher. It’s okay with me, whatever you want. Just so you know, the non-words are talking, I’m listening, and you aren’t alone. The non-word sounds and the great stillness of your Rabbi soul are all a beauty to me.
By Marcia Beachy, January 7, 2009