One of these days, I imagine walking through the lobby. Someone plays an arrangement of Duke Ellington’s “Pretty Girl,” and Christmas lights silently drift between life and death. In someone’s peripheral vision, I tread politely in my black shoes and downcast stare; perhaps outside, the murmur of people who have to be in the hospital so close to Christmas, who are perhaps scared or lonely or just plain tired, tired, tired, silently fade, and there is nothing but the next note.
There will be papers in my hand, a stethoscope making my already heavy shoulders a little heavier, a little more fatigued—the equivalent of a tired salaryman’s necktie after a hard day’s work. Except the hard day is not over yet, and I can’t complain. Bodies give up left and right, with no regard whatsoever to the holiday season. And I suppose there are a handful of us who are somehow fooled into thinking that we ought to be there for them during this time, during the entire year, during the rest of our lives.
I sigh. Maybe “fooled” is too strong a term. But I am tired. The stethoscope is heavy. And this won’t be the only December night that I will spend standing up and making sure that everyone wakes up alive the next morning.
These nights, I wish the pianist at the lobby would just stay the night and play the songs I like. I wish something would make the night a little less morose. But even pretty girls have to have their morose nights. People everywhere carry a certain type of sadness with them, and in December they are more palpable than ever.