“How long has it been? Can we go see him now?” I didn’t direct my question to anyone specifically, just to any adult who happened to be listening to me.
Rex looked to my Mom for direction, as did my own dad.
“Well let’s go find a nurse,” my mother said with a troubled look set in her eyes.
“Can we please see Nate Kerby?” Rex asked a grey-haired nurse who was sitting in front of a dimly lit computer.
She barely looked up at us as she pointed down the green and white hallway. “Forty four eighty.”
I’ve never walked down a longer hallway. I was terrified to reach his room because I didn’t know what to expect. The hospital was sterile-smelling and unfriendly. The emergency room doctors and nurses who zoomed past us were unhelpful and cold. I started shaking when I saw the numbers to his room.
Rex was the first to reach the door. I was second, my mother last. My dad opted to stay in the waiting room because he didn’t handle these things well.
The room we entered was dark, cool and oddly still. The only sound was an occasional startling beep and the sound of air being compressed which was a life support machine. It imitated the function of his lungs.
I felt uneasy when I looked at Nate who looked nothing like the strong and athletic man we all knew him as. Rex walked to Nate’s bedside and held his son’s hand and shed a few tears while both my mother and I hung back.
She eventually nudged me forward and I was suddenly by Nate’s bedside. I reached for his hand and his fingers were warm and soft, as they had always been. I expected them to be stiff and cold. I didn’t expect him to still smell like him. I leaned in, close to his face, and I gently kissed his sunken cheek that just yesterday had been smooth and flawlessly tanned. Rex offered me a chair to sit in and for the next hour I didn’t take my eyes off of Nate.
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