What We Talk About When We Talk About Love
In the next room, she was screaming again, and even I was wondering where the hell her epidural was at this point. The man hadn’t shown up yet, her screams let the entire floor know that. Shouldn’t that be the most important moment of that man’s life, becoming a father and watching a life he created being brought into this world by the woman he chose to lie down with? I mean, that’s what love is right?
The room on the other side of us was much quieter, so quiet you could hear the old man’s soul pass as his wife silently sobbed. I visited with that woman two days before in the cafeteria, we both got a coffee from the kiosk in the center: black, no sugar, no cream. Though it may seem insignificant, the woman and I bonded over our drink choice, it showed we both liked things straight up. No extra bs, just the important stuff.
She looked tired as she told me she had seen me in the room next door a few times this week and asked me why I was here. “The same reason we all are I suppose,” was all I could think of at the moment.
“Myself, I’m here for my husband. Married 28 years now, that old hard-headed man won’t ever stop eating fast food hamburgers. I told him it would be the death of him one day. It shouldn’t surprise me that he had a heart attack at 53.” Her voice was that of a strong southern woman, but her delivery was that of a weakened west wing bound broken-hearted girl.
It made me think, as I was sitting in the worn out hospital loveseat imagining the woman’s next move, about how many love stories could be told from the nurses in this place. Every time I tried to get a good story, however, the only real conversation I could get was about the weather, always something about the weather.
My personal reason for being here stirred in his bed, and my heart did the same nervous twinge it did the day I found him. He had been lying there for 5 hours that day, helpless until I came to drop off some tools I borrowed, he later told her.
“You’re still here, go home already dammit.” That was her father. Never admitting defeat. Never asking for help. They both knew he wanted nothing more than for her to be there, and that she had nowhere else she could be.
“What are we going to talk about today?” he asked through sips of that annoyingly oversized water jug on his bedside table as he adjusted his eyes and body to the light of the room. “The weather? My replacement at the Co-op? How about that new boyfriend of yours?” He was bitter in here, that was understandable.
“He’s not new, we’ve been dating for two years now dad, you’ve got to get used to him being around more often.” I smiled my best mood changing smile I could muster up as I tried to make him do the same. If I held my face just right, with my nose all scrunched up and my eyes squinted shut, he would laugh every time. It’s what I did when I was in trouble as a kid and I never let it go. “That crazy baby momma finally popped this morning, the father never showed up,” I said through our muffled laughter.
“That doesn’t surprise me, young love tends to work out that way.” he smirked in that ‘I told you so’ way he was so great at as he sat up higher in his bed. “What about Roger next door, how’s that old geezer holding up?”
I cringed as I shifted uncomfortably in my seat. That was enough to let him know what had happened without actually saying the words. They both knew that saying those words meant acknowledging mortality, both men being the same age and in here for the same thing and all.
“His wife hasn’t left yet, they can’t get her out of the room long enough to change his bedding even.” my voice cracked as my thoughts went to my father’s own close call, and to my other strong man back home.
“I don’t much feel like talking about all that today dad, you chose the subject.” I timidly said as I broke my sad reverie.
“Let’s talk about the weather then,” he said hopefully, and I hopped up to open the window and sit closer on the side of his bed. I couldn’t think of anything better to talk about in a place like this.