I went to the hospital today for a clinic visit. On my way into the front doors, I spotted a woman in the corner crying and being consoled by an older man, perhaps her father.
In the lobby I saw a child in a wheelchair who was unable to control his body and looked as though he most likely could not speak. Next to him stood his mother (I assumed) and she looked absolutely exhausted.
As I made my way to the escalator, I saw a young woman who seemed to be mentally handicapped and she was screaming and flailing her arms. People that I assumed were her family surrounded her and, with embarrassed faces, tried to control her tantrum.
At the top of the escalator I heard a man moaning and glanced over to see him on a gurney in the middle of the hallway. He was hooked up to an IV, he was unattended and looked to be in pain.
Walking into the clinic, I passed by two women and overheard one say “The next step is Chemotherapy…after that, well, I just don’t know”.
This was not an unusual day. In fact, I have seen worse on plenty of occasions. (I’ll never forget the mother I saw talking on the Pediatric Unit’s pay phone sobbing and relaying the very recent death of her daughter. That one still haunts me many years later.) The sights and sounds of the hospital are difficult to digest if you are paying attention. It’s possible to barrel through and not notice the lives around you, but I have made a conscious choice not to. I try to drink in the pain, the suffering and the stories that are all around when you walk through the halls of any hospital, in any city, in any state.
I am not alone in my suffering. I am not the one that suffers the most. There is no shortage of people in pain.
There is one phrase that runs through my head every time I journey through those hallways. Earth is hard. There is no doubt about it.