There’s a stillness to waiting rooms.
A dead calm.
Existing just outside of time, lives hang suspended there as people wait to discover the toll they must pay to continue their passage.
Sitting across from me an older, Indian woman reclined in her chair, drifting. Beautiful in sleep, her third eye combed unknown realms before she returned to her mortal body and woke into the hospital lights, tired and disappointed.
A man, his eyes closed, breathed carefully while listening to his iPhone. He was so concentrated, so brittle and alone, and his lips moved almost imperceptibly as he repeated the words he was listening to.
And as if in response, a tired nurse coming off shift– her jacket already on– approached him and gently placed her hand on his shoulder. His eyes flashed open in alarm, and she smiled, asking if there was anything she could do for him. He quickly, reflexively, shook his head no, but she stayed, and growing more beautiful by the word, she spoke with him until something inside the man softly dissolved and the rigidity passed from his body.
Later, a cab pulled up at one of the hospital’s entranceways and a man on oxygen support and his wife got out of the car. They were excited, moving quickly, as if on a game show or late for their vacation cruise of a lifetime. I got inside the car they just left and the cabbie was a happy and talkative. He told me that the guy who just got out, after years of waiting, after countless false starts and failed matches, had just received the phone call that he was going to get a lung transplant and to come in NOW! The man, the driver said, was going to be able to breath again, he was going to be able to go to the family cottage and once again, just like when he was a boy, go swimming in the lake at night.
And as we pulled away from the hospital we passed by a couple of petite Asian women in vividly coloured bubble jackets waiting at the crosswalk. Smiling, they leaned in toward the traffic, swaying slightly, like brightly-lit balloons just about to lift off into the sky.