Tuesday, April 7, 2009

More from Help Is on the Way

In medicine we like to stay grounded only in what we can observe. Observation forms the cornerstone of all types of medicine, Chinese or Western or other. We observe people's tongues, the color of their faces, their posture and gait, the quality of their speech, even what they smell like. Modern tools like blood tests and MRIs allow us to observe in a different way.

But what if you observe something that others can't necessarily see? Here's another clip from the L.A. Weekly story Help Is on the Way, by Courtney Moreno.

I didn’t think I’d be able to fall asleep sitting in the rig, but in the end I did. I slept and I dreamed. In my dream there was a clean white room: white walls, tile floor. John Doe was lying on the floor, still naked but cleaned up: no sign of blood or brain or even the wound for that matter, and his skin and tattoos were gleaming. His eyes were closed, he wasn’t yet dead but not alive either, and whatever life existed in him was in the form of a kind of coiled-up and angry tension: Some part of him refused to let go.

I got underneath him very carefully. Curled up in a ball, my head lowered, my breathing labored, I inched his torso into a sitting position by leaning my body weight into his back and pushing the ground away. It was slow, meticulous work and he was unnaturally heavy. His arms were relaxed at his side and his head was tilted back resting on my serpentine spine. His mouth was ajar and through the open channel of his throat came a kind of smoke or light. Every time I nudged him, his body relaxed a little more, and that strange substance slid out, curling up into the air around him.

That smoke, that light was grateful to be going. It was grateful to be going, and the more it left him, the lighter and more relaxed his body became. No tension, no ugliness, no holding on. Just a body on a tile floor, with smoke and light in the air around it, and me crouched underneath.

I want to be that grateful when I go.

No comments: