The Door

By Alfred Persson (LLARC)

He lay silently in bed. The family was divided; should he be admitted to the hospital or stay at home and go into hospice. Margaret, the oldest daughter, insisted he be admitted to the hospital. She had not seen him in years, but now that the end was near, she was exerting herself.

The doctor was by earlier, as he had done every day since Robert had been admitted. The nurse came by every half hour to check and occasionally did something. There was not much to do. The door was open a quarter of the way, and the hallway light peered in.

The family was gathered in the waiting room at the end of the hall. They talked about the grandchildren and other things that were going on in the family. They would walk down the hallway periodically, one or two at a time, and stand beside the bed. They said little, “Margaret came from California. She took the red eye and arrived early yesterday morning. The nurse said we could bring the older grandchildren over this afternoon.”

The door closed a bit more but was still open an inch or two.

Margaret came in by herself. “I am here, Dad. It has been a while since we have seen each other. Ruth and I talked, and I am up to date on things. I know about your cancer and the treatment you have been through. I know it helped for a while but then came back.”

Robert did not move or give any sights of acknowledgment. Margaret stood there holding his hand while the tears ran down her face. She wished she had flown out to see him when the cancer was first diagnosed, but she was busy with her work, and there was no rush.

She also wished she had taken the time to call.

The door closed a bit more but was still open. Margaret kissed him on the forehead and left to join the family.

They decided to go for lunch. When they returned, the door was closed.