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Sometimes Life Looks Like a Hospital Bed and a Broken Clock


When someone you love is in the hospital, you have to reorganize your entire life. In a very physically defined way, because you cancel plans and uproot yourself to drive six hours south to a live in a different house while you deal with things like paperwork and doctors and emotions. But your life also reorganizes itself in an intangible way. You sit in a room and stare at piles of incomprehensible paper until someone notices that the clock on the wall is broken. That time, for all intents and purposes, has stopped. That the person in the bed staring at the clock, unable to move, unable to leave, must be in some motionless hell. You feel like it's your job to fix it, so you stare at it, wondering what you need to do and postulating theories about what has to happen. Until your brother stands up, gently lifts the clock off the wall, and pokes the battery more firmly into place. And time starts again.

It's intangible because something in your life has shifted. You know things aren't quite right. The person you knew isn't quite that person any more. But also they are. But they aren't. Because they aren't eating and the pain meds are doing strange things to their speech patterns and you don't know when they'll get better or if they even want to. Even as you go about your daily life, what your daily life has become, a small corner of your brain understands that something has changed. So you do serious mental and spiritual acrobatics until the world shifts again. Because this is what's happening now. So this is what's right.