Drivers' Corner - Knight of the Highway
Chapter XV: Love Lessons
Seeing a doctor or going into a hospital were never very high priorities on my things–to–do list. Usually I would go in and, as best as I could, stay to myself and keep a low profile. For some reason, this time I began looking around.
I found the hospital to be fascinating. Not the machines, the building or even the medical technology. What I noticed was human weakness that produced strength. Even greater than that, I saw something beyond understanding yet paradoxically within reach. It was love.
How lonely it would be to be alone in a hospital experiencing the weaknesses of human life, to realize the frailty and brevity of life. Yet I could feel a strength there that seemed to reach out and touch my hand and electrify my whole being.
I wheeled my chair down the hallways and looked in the waiting rooms. They were filled with sadness, which was the reason I hated going to hospitals. Through all the sadness, love shone through. I never noticed that before. I saw love in the tears and fears of those whose loved ones were in pain. I saw strength in people who had only one thing left: hope.
What would life be without such a word? Hope. That word changes lives; it brings life to dark and dreary places; it keeps a person going when the walls seem to be crowding in and when the heart seems to be shattered by the pain of suffering. Out of the midst of the wreckage and smoldering dust, fights hope.
I watched couples holding each other, drawing strength while a loved one was in another room under bright lights and surgical instruments. A mother and her children waiting patiently for word from the doctor on Daddy's condition. Through all of it, I could see hope. That hope seemed to draw its strength from love.
"Love casts out fear." Through the weakness of fear comes the strength of love. Somehow that love gives birth to hope.
I found myself overcome with emotion as I saw these things in the people with scared smiles, with hands held gently. Weary eyes that had not seen sleep. I had never been an emotional type and was taught never "to wear emotions on my sleeve." I found my cheeks wet and my heart reaching out to those sitting and my thoughts saying, "It will be all right!"
I wheeled over to Alice's room, my eyes fuzzy from tears. At her bedside I grabbed her hand and held it. I held it closely to my cheeks and kissed it. I sat there for a few moments thinking of her. I was in a wheelchair and she was sleeping, burrowed partly beneath the white sheet. I wanted so much to look into her beautiful eyes, to be transported deep within her soul. From the inner depths of my mind came a whisper that I spoke out loud, "I love you, Alice."
A crackled and dehydrated voice whispered out, "I'm not Alice!"
Behind me, I heard a crackled and painful laugh. It was Alice and she was laughing and complaining how bad it hurt to laugh. Alice was in the other bed that was behind me. I found that she had wanted to be closer to the window and the college girl was willing to change places. The nurses allowed them to and there I was pouring my soul out to the wrong woman.
The woman whose hand I held painfully leaned up to see me. I smiled and nodded with embarrassment and she smiled back. I pulled away to see my Alice, but the girl squeezed my hand. I squeezed back and gave her hand another gentle kiss and was soon beside my Alice.
She was in good spirits and jovial. She told me a little about the person whose hand I had just held. She was college girl who had experienced an accident herself. Her car, which had been a gift from her parents, was totaled. Alice talked a while about her and seemed to know her as if they had been together forever. Yet Alice had just met her. That was the way Alice was; she loved people and considered everyone her friend. Did she consider me just a friend? Or was there more?
Alice asked me, "Do you really love me?" Then, thinking of the mishap I just endured, she began to laugh.
I answered defensively, "Yes, you think that's funny?"
"No, I was just thinking," she laughed.
"That it's funny," I answered sarcastically.
She hit me and then grabbed my hand and held my hand in hers. She said with a warm smile, "Thank you."
Back in my room, in bed again, I slowly drifted off to sleep, wondering if Alice meant, "I love you, too." Was "thank you" her way of saying it?
I knew I would soon have to get back to the truck to meet the newbie who would drive me home. I wanted to stay with Alice forever, but knew I needed to get home. After the news, my parents were worried and wanted to see me. The dark shadow of sleep soon gripped me and pulled me under its wing an held me quietly there thinking of Alice.