A loved one’s heart attack is like a closed door;
he is on that side and we are on this side.
The door opens with the sudden collapse.
Ambulance attendants act as ushers.
Now we are in the waiting room waiting
and he is on the other side of the door
in ICU having a heart attack.
The waiting room is suspended in time
every minute stretching out and back
“we were just eating dinner…”
“he was just telling us about work…”
every minute stretching out and forward
“when will we hear something?”
“what’s happening now?”
every person jumping when someone walks by
“It’s just the janitor.”
“It’s just the people from the lab.”
every quiet moment a prayer
“Let him be all right.”
“Let him get better.”
The nurse enters with hopeful words,
“You can see him now.”
One by one we go through the big steel door,
shocked by the morass of tubes and wires
mentally peeling off the breathing tube, the IVs
to uncover the one we love.
A quick glimpse and back to the waiting room.
Time passes and the doctor enters.
He has a sober look on his face.
Cushioning words– “I’m sorry to tell you this…”
another closed door– “he’s had another heart attack.”
that will not open– “and we lost him.”
ever– “I’m sorry.”
Waiting in the waiting room
as we gasp for breath
as we clasp each other for dear life
staggering with loss, wild with grief.
Tears flow. Hands hold heads
as we catch our careening minds
and anchor them to the new reality
of a closed and locked door.
He is on that side and we are on this side.
God of closed doors,
God of what is on this side
and what is on the other side,
be with us as we wait
for our turn through the door
in a world that has become a waiting room.