It was Saturday, September 23.
I sat in a hospital emergency room with a friend that had taken too many sleeping pills.
She apologized again and again.
She was just trying to get some sleep she said.
I sat stoically as she went through the usual blood test and steadily drank one after another charcoal milkshake.
I listened to those around us in their little curtained-off cubicles and strained to watch the Phillies play the Braves on TV.
There was a little girl who had spilled hot soup on herself: “…please daddy don’ make soup no more… I don’t wike it…”
“…It’s okay, pumpkin… I promise… I won’t…” I heard her father say in reply.
Further down, there was a typically loud blue collar northeasterner comforting his son
“Christ… I seen ya hurt worser ridin’ your freakin’ tricycle, they called me down here for this…”
Outside, a cold fall rain drifted listlessly down. It was the first rain of autumn that stripped away leaves and signaled the end of one more season.
Just another cold early fall day in the northeast.
Suddenly the main doors flew open.
An emergency team burst through the doors working feverishly over a middle-aged man on the gurney. The ward nurses and a young doctor joined them. It was a chaotic ballet of hands and motion.
They moved in the frenzied but efficient manner of professionals doing that to which they are accustomed.
Their battle went on for what seemed like an hour, then their pitch slowed. The movements slowed and became lethargic. A priest appeared and hovered over the body.
A young woman came in. She had blond hair and a round china-doll face. Fear and worry coursed from her brown eyes.
She stopped as she saw the priest standing over her father’s lifeless body.
He said nothing.
She looked at him for several more moments that seemed to last an age.
And then she screamed.
She screamed one single word over and over in long mourning cries.
That one word echoed through my ears as if I had never heard it before.
I could never convey the loneliness and anguish in the sound of her voice.
There just aren’t words for it.
Finally, a nurse took her hand and led her away to continue her grieving in some other place.
But, the screams still seemed to echo through the hall.
I sat silently.
The little girl who was burned with soup was quiet.
As was the young man and his father.
All were silent.
Some time later, my friend was admitted for evaluation and I went home.
It was three am before I lay down to sleep but, I could not.
I sat up on the edge of the bed and lit a cigarette.
There were no whispering goodbyes.
There were no last words.
There were no angels singing.
There was only the sound of the rain falling on the roof…
…and the wind blowing the sound of a single word through the trees.
B. Jones was born and raised in and around Philadelphia Pa, and is now living in Charlotte NC. A former auto mechanic, speed freak, steel worker, roadie, warehouse manager, machinist, daycare teacher, traveling used car salesman.