Turning 24 on the Peds Floor

February 28, 2002|

Turning 24 on the Peds Floor

It was an ominous morning. It all started at 4AM with my nurse mentioning the b-word. Then at 5AM another nurse. Then at 6AM another nurse. By 8AM I was utterly freaked out. That’s when Z, my chillin’ nurse’s aide, came in to take my temperature and mentioned everybody knowing about my big day, even the playroom. “Not the play room.” I moaned to her half-asleep, I’m turning 24 on the Peds floor. OOOOHHHHHHî I was envisioning a scary birthday, not a happy birthday. Remember, I am 24 on a Peds floor. “Clowns, ponies, cakes with sparklers, balloons out the wazoo, midgets…when would the madness end?” I pondered.

I approached the day cautiously. Blinds covered the windows. The curtain was pulled. No one would know. It wasn’t till I received my breakfast that I realized it was all in a futile attempt. On the little menu card dictating my choices was a little typed-in line. “Happy Birthday from Dining Services!” Shoot! If Dining Services knows, well then everyone knows. Might as well enjoy it while you can. An extra apple juice with my Cheerios- happy birthday to me.

Thankfully the playroom folk never materialized. Two clowns stopped by, though, and did a stirring rendition of “Happy Birthday,” in Basso Nova style, with a harmonica, shaker egg and two tongue depressors. The pictures are now available online under the photos section for your viewing pleasure.

The rest of the day was event-free. No ponies, cakes with sparklers, midgets. I did get a bunch of balloons, though. Balloons, I can take balloons. Sue, from Integrative Medicine, stopped by to give me my weekly reflexology treatment (read: foot massage). Oh ho ho! Man, that’s better than any pony or midget!

Someone sent me a radio-controlled truck today. Let me tell you. I already wrecked it twice. Once onto the shoe of the attending physician, who started rounds today on the floor for the first time. I was in my room; the truck was out in the hallway (off-limits to Art). He picked it up and walked to my door. I shut the blinds. Busted. I can only imagine his thoughts. “The 24-year-old birthday boy, playing with his toys.”

The rest of the day was spent with friends, watching Friends and enjoying Minute Maid juice boxes. Personally, that’s what I would have wanted in the first place.

Anyway, this is not an update to solicit Birthday wishes or the like. Contrary. Instead I hope you enjoyed reading the story of my birthday as much as I enjoyed partaking in it. I think it’s another hilarious chapter in the saga of “Art on the Peds Floor” that will have to be part of my book, whenever I get around to writing it.

On a Sappier Note

I was watching the Grammy’s last night and became very intrigued with the first performance, U2’s Walk On.I am not sure what it was that got me, but I was hooked. So this morning I listened to the song very closely and discovered this nugget of truth and profundity, spoken in the first few seconds of the song:

And love is not the easy thing

The only baggage you can bring…

And love is not the easy thing….

The only baggage you can bring

Is all that you can’t leave behind

I never got the title of the CD. What does “All That You Can’t Leave Behind” mean? What is Bono trying to say? Later on he continues at the end of the song:

All that you fashion

All that you make

All that you build

All that you break

All that you measure

All that you steal

All this you can leave behind

All that you reason

All that you sense

All that you speak

All you dress up

All that you scheme…

My feeble translation? Bono is saying that there is nothing, nothing that is more permanent in this life than love. All of the “stuff” that we deem important in life- fame, riches, success, happiness, work, identity…doesn’t come with us! It’s all stuff that we leave behind here on earth. But the permanent, the thing we should be striving for and doing, is love. Yet, why do I put those things first many times? Add to that the little throw-in “…is not the easy thing” for your answer. It’s much, much easier to pursue the other stuff in life. Love, man, it’s gosh darn hard work. Loving people we are supposed to love, that’s hard. How about loving people we are not supposed to love, that’s even harder. Loving people who not our age, race, religion, status, that’s the hardest! It’s so much easier to pursue the other stuff. But what’s the point? It doesn’t come with us. It doesn’t make the trip.

Well, you may be asking, why is that hitting me now? I can’t help but look around my room for the answer. I look at my right wall and I see a quilt with 100some squares made by as many friends, family and co-workers. I look at the wall in front of me and see 50some greeting cards. I look at the wall to my left and see balloons, postcards and gifts. Now those are things that will get left behind. But the love behind them, that never will. Never. That’s remarkable. I can’t help but tear up as I wrote that very sentence. It’s humbling and touching at the same time.

I know I’ll never be able to reciprocate it all. I don’t think Hallmark would be able to print enough thank you cards. Instead, though, I have come to realize that I need to do what I can and make love my priority here. It’s the only carry-on bag I keep. The rest, it’s all checked-in baggage that gets “lost” in route.

And you all, you all are my example. I am blessed and fortunate to have many a visual monument reminding me of what’s most important, the one thing I can’t leave behind. Thank you, in my sincerest gratitude, for providing those monuments. May I someday, with a little Help, do the same.

And love is not the easy thing

The only baggage you can bring…

And love is not the easy thing….

The only baggage you can bring

Is all that you can’t leave behind

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