Hope, Dread, and the Observer

A hospital room in black and white. Two empty beds. "Hope, Dread, and the Observer" A poem by Beeda L. Speis December 27, 2016

A Poem: Hope, Dread, and the Observer

Two men.
Their final week. Departing. Leaving. Dying.
Yet, starting anew.
Traveling. Moving on. The next life. Eternal life.

Tombstone: Born date – Died date.
The dash in between. Life. Each life.
What did they do?
Human life. Seemingly the destination, but merely the transition.
What did they learn?
Did they have an effect?
What lies ahead?

A life. Human life. All it entails. All that was seemingly important.
Had they known it would end like this, what would they change?

Nearly sixty years for the first; nearly 80 years for the second.
To what end?
Lying in a palliative care facility; seemingly unaware. Dressed only in a hospital gown, opened to the back, nearly naked. Wearing a diaper, as an infant. Leaving this world as they entered it.
Covered with a thin white sheet. Cold. Motionless. Mouth ajar, drool running down from the corners of their mouths, eyes opened, sheepishly, staring at nothing. Seeing nothing. Hearing nothing. Apparently. To the casual observer, they are nearly dead. To the casual observer, their minds are gone; they are unaware, unconscious.
Yet, conscious they are.
They sense the greyness of the outside world. The cold, dead hibernation of winter beats against the single pane glass window, bringing the death of outside in, and the soon-to-be death on the inside, out. Tops of trees in the distance, naked, void of leaves, seemingly, void of life. Dark. Dismal. Perfect weather for dying.
The wind howls; bends the treetops, conjuring something unalive; the moaning, groaning, permeating the sterile, lifeless room. Lifeless save for the two men, dying; the observer, observing, family and friends who have long since passed.
They, hidden from the observer, beckon to one man, taunt the other.
The first, younger man, Hope. The second, older man, Dread.
Lives so similar. Lives so different.
All coming down to – the end. It’s the end to the living, but to the dead, it is the beginning; just the beginning.
Life, here, on earth, human form; a body in the image of the Creator; a disobedient, unbelieving life given freely to the Prince of Darkness.
The body will soon be left; an empty shell. A mere vessel.
Ever changing. Ever deteriorating.
The heart that loved. Pierced time after time. Unbearable pain.
The ill, abused body. Legs working no more.
Disease. Pills. Prayers.

Two men.
Facing death.
Looking into that tunnel. Dipping their toes into the next world, as if checking the temperature of a lake, before taking the big leap. Before diving in. Too late.
The time is drawing near.

Two men.
One foot in this world, one in the next.
Looking at death. Approaching. Accelerating.

One man has hope. Family and friends who have gone before, beckon. He looks into the tunnel and sees the Light.
He is at peace.
He repeats to his family, “Hope.”
Morphine masks the pain.

One man is full of dread. He looks into the tunnel and sees nothing.
Total blackness.
Family and friends who have gone before, mock him. Unintentional. He sees them. Calls to them.
They cannot hear him.
They fade away.
Lights dim.
He calls out, “where are you?”
He shakes.
Total isolation. Total darkness.
Unbearable fear.
Morphine keeps him silent.
To the observer, the fear of Dread is unbearable to observe.

Two men. Lying still, awaiting death.
Breathing becomes labored.
The “rasp of death,” the nurse called it. The final step.
The soul leaves its broken vessel.
The vessel quiets.
Turns pallid.
Goes limp.
Eyes opened. Empty. Vacated.

Observer, happy for Hope.
Comforted, even.
Observer, horrified for Dread.
A fleeting pang of guilt.
Quickly quashed by selfish rationale.
But, then again…
What if?
Reflecting on his own life; his dash between the dates.
Being an observer was easy.
No responsibilities.
No effort.
It required no thinking. No courage.
It was safe.

Internal conflict wallowed up inside him.
Is being an observer selfish?
Not meddling in other people’s lives.
Not pushing his faith, his beliefs on others was considerate.
Was it not?
Observer, hearing a trembling voice from the beyond.
“You should have told me.”
Observer, cries for his friend, Dread.
Cries for the eternity of isolation.
Unbearable thought.
The abyss of hell.
The best kept secret.

Two men. One observer.
Which are you?