i usually don’t like to write too in depth about my personal life, but i’ve spent a good portion of the past two days visiting my grandfather at the hospital, and it’s been a very surreal experience.
i’ve never spent much time in a hospital, either to visit someone or because i was sick or injured. hospitals, more than any other place i’ve been, are so quiet and nervous and cold. my grandfather was in the icu, and when i walked into his room, he was sleeping; with what seemed like great labor, his chest moved up and down, breathing in and out. he had tubes in his nose; needles stuck into the flesh of his arms, connected by tubes to the audience of machinery that surrounded him, clicking and humming; straps, like the ones that grocery store to test your blood pressure, around his legs that pumped air to squeeze his calves and keep his blood from clotting; a bag half-full of bright yellow urine hanging from a hook on the side of his bed. it was all i could do to keep from crying, seeing his body so frail and aged. he was disoriented from the pain medication, kept falling asleep in mid-conversation and mumbling sentence fragments unconsciously.
never before have i been so aware of how delicate the human form is. when i saw him, i thought “this is the closest i’ve ever been to death.” my grandfather is in good health, active for his age, and yet there he was lying in a hospital bed, completely inert, weak, pricked and monitored like a science project. he took good care of himself, and his body still had to be aided with medicine and machines when it had been pushed a little too far.
it just reminds me of how much we take our bodies for granted: our bodies can do magical things, like push out a small human form into the living breathing world, lift the dead weight of an automobile in the right circumstances and with the right amount of adrenaline, naturally process the food we put into it, endure cuts and kicks and chemical exposure with fierce resilience; and yet, our bodies are not invincible. they are made of matter that can be crushed, sometimes to a pulp. i think of all the damage we inflict upon our bodies, for reasons cosmetic or psychological or unknowing, and how we don’t treat always treat them with the quiet wonder that we should if we truly understood how transient their animation is.
my point is that we need to have consideration toward the body, sensitivity to its limitations and embrace of its magnificence. we only get one body (unless you believe in incarnation), and once it’s gone, it’s gone forever. all we can do is be good to our bodies, so much as we have power to do so, and hope that goodness will reverberate for as long as possible.