A Short Story of Innate Human Kindness
Two seriously ill gentlemen occupied the same hospital room. The first man’s treatment required him to sit straight up in his bed for an hour every afternoon to drain fluid from his lungs. His bed lay next to the room’s only window. The second man was bedridden and spent all of his time flat on his back. The two men were fast friends and would talk for hours. They spoke of their wives and families; they shared their most intimate memories from their childhood; they talked about their skills and passions in life; they reminisced on vacations taken long ago.
Every afternoon, while the first man had to sit up by the window for his treatment, he would pass the time by describing everything he saw out of the window to his roommate.
The second man began to truly live during those one-hour periods. His mind would expand past the four walls of the hospital room. His imagination would run wild as he envisioned all of the wonderful things that were so close to him, yet so far away.
The window overlooked a park the man would say. There was a lake and he would describe the ducks and swans swimming on the water. There were sometimes children running around or wading carefully into the water. Young lovers holding hands would lie in the grass for hours on end. The soft skyline of downtown could be seen in the distance past the park.
As the man by the window described everything in exquisite detail the other man would lie there with his eyes closed imagining every picturesque detail in his minds eye.
On a sunny Saturday morning, the first man described a parade passing by the window.
Even though the second man could not see all of the colors and smiling people he closed his eyes and felt like he was there as the first man set the scene with his descriptive words.
One morning, the day nurse arrived to bring the men their breakfast and get them ready for baths. She entered the room only to find the lifeless body of the man by the window. He had died peacefully in his sleep the night before.
She was deeply saddened when she told the second man lying on his back. He said no words but shed a few tears for his lost friend.
As soon as it seemed appropriate, the second man asked if his bed could be moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to move him closer to the window. After the nurse made sure he was comfortable, she left him alone in the room.
Slowly & painfully the man propped himself up so he could get his first glimpse of the park just outside of the window.
He strained as he contorted his weak body into position so he could sit up in the bed.
Looking out for the first time, he saw that the window only faced a red brick wall. Out of confusion, he pressed the nurse call button. When she walked in, he asked what would have compelled the first man who made up wonderful stories of what lay outside the window.
The nurse replied that the first man was blind and could not even see the window.
She said, “Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you.”