October 29th, 2001

This is a long, somewhat depressing post...

I've noticed that I tend to hestitate telling people about health problems happening in my family. For example, I haven't told most people that my father is currently in the hospital. After doing some thinking, and actually identifying my hesistancy, I have come up with a few reasons why I do this. One of them is that my family has gone through a lot of medical trouble... so much that a hospital stay is not that uncommon for either one of my parents. Hell, one of the visitors of an other patient labelled me as a veteran tonight. . So, I find that after time, telling someone that one of them is in the hospital becomes somewhat repetitive. Causes all sorts of false alarms, as people hear hospital and immediately go into 4-alarm fire mode, while I just sit back and get ready for "another day at work,' so to speak. (I should say here that my father is doing OK... and will hopefully be home by Wednesday morning.)

The other reason I discovered tonight... while watching a TV drama about the fire and police departments of NY. They're actually using the September 11th tragedy as a storyline, which they have done amazingly, and I really like it. Anyway... its showing how the firefighters are starting to get edgy because of all the people saying thank you, and giving them free stuff. They want real life to start again.

I think that same reaction happens to me. Is everything OK, and what can I do to help works with the first 10 people. After that, you just don't want to tell the same story over and over again. It keeps it living, and keeps it raw, while you (or in this case, me) wants to move past it and do what you (I) got to do. Of course, that isn't fair to the person asking, so you DO tell the whole story. This is why I tend not to say the first sentence much anymore. It (selflishly probably) makes my life easier.

Sitting in the hospital with my Dad, I revisited an old philosophical thought process I have every so often. I was a religion minor, yet, I am not a very religious person at all. So I tend not to place full faith in religion to determine what is a good and virtuous person. Instead, once in a blue moon I experience something that inspires an addition to my mental checklist of what is and isn't a good person.

Well, tonight I have a new addition to the list. A good person is someone who can appreciate the bad, sorrowful, tragedy-filled moments in life. Now, when I say appreciate, I'm not referring to the impulse to slow down and stare at the car wreck on the other side of the highway. Instead, let me relate the following:

My Dad is in a horribly depressing hospital room (6 patients to a room.) In this room, there is a man with brain cancer in a coma, a man who had a stroke and now suffers from pnymonia, a man who is waiting for a slot to open at a living home because his family won't come and get him, and another man who is dying of old age and is literally waiting to die. Then there is my father, with stomach pains, and a little problem with keeping food down.

Here is the reason why I hate hospitals so much... because every single ounce of tradegy and misery that is around me, I feel. I feel it within me as if it was mine. I watch the mother and daughter of the man in a coma cry because of the sight of all the tubes flowing into him, despite seeing that for the past 3 days... and I cry. Their pain becomes my pain. And I appreciate that... I understand that misery for what it is. I watch it as if it is a documentary, a pictoral telling of a story.

Same goes for September 11th. I purposelly went innumerous times to Union Square, and St. Vincents Hospital, and other locations around the city in the days and weeks after the disaster, reading carefully the missing persons posters, and the hand-made drawings of good will... the posters with headlines such as "Detroit loves you all," "Love and faith from Austin Texas..." I cried everytime. Because I understood it... I appreciated it. I felt it.

That ability... that ability to understand pain in its rawest emotional form, and to embrace it. That is one of the many virtues a good and pious man should have. I'm not sure about the rest... but I know I have that one.
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