The Emergency Room

I search frantically for the hospital that I only heard of an hour ago. Oakwood Southshore. Why would they bring him here if it was so far away from the accident site? Don’t get me wrong. I am thankful they did not take him to the closest hospital. That one is not known for the highest of patient care so that makes me feel marginally better. Trouble is I can’t seem to locate it and I’m afraid if I don’t get there soon, I will start to cry.

Sitting at a light, I am beginning to panic. No signs for a hospital and I am unfamiliar with this whole area. I spot a small ice cream shop and tear in the driveway. I dash from the car leaving it running-door wide open. Inside, people are laughing and enjoying their cold treats. Don’t they know something terrible has happened?

I desperately search the brightly decorated room for a sign of help. A man in his mid-fifties catches my eye and holds my gaze. Approaching him quickly I pant, “Do you know where Oakwood Southshore is? I need to get there immediately.”

He must notice my frazzled appearance but says nothing. I am still in my pajama pants and old tee shirt from school. It was PJ day today and I never even changed when I got home. My hair is coming out from a loose bun and I’m sweating.

“You are very close. Go straight through this light and turn left at the apartment complex. Follow the main road all the way to the end,” he gestures with his hand the way. “The Emergency Entrance is on the right. This way you avoid the Michigan Left further down this road.” He smiles gently as if he understands my need at this moment.

I want to explain what has happened. To tell him my life has changed so drastically in the last hour. He seems ready to listen, calm and patient. It would be nice to get a waffle cone filled with chocolate chip mint, sit and watch the cars drive past, and pretend there is no rush. I spot my car door open and run past him, thanking him briefly.

The lot is smaller than I expected. I see an open spot and dart in. Both hands on the top of my steering wheel, I rest my head on the backs of my hands. This is where he is and I have no idea how bad it is.

I peer up at the entrance doors and see Thelma, Jimmy K.’s wife waiting for me. She looks regal as ever-perfectly groomed and looking like she is ready for Sunday services. She is expecting me, I know. We spoke several times on the phone already.

I gather my purse and phone and make my way across the scorching hot parking lot. Thelma opens her arms to me and I fall into her. She is petite and slight but stronger than she looks. She holds me close and gently guides me inside where I sign the “Permission to Treat” form and show my ID to the receptionist.

Thelma leads me past a general waiting room and to a smaller room off to the side. The contemporary artwork on the walls and dark grey utilitarian carpeting are probably meant to speak ‘comfort’ but it all makes me feel terribly out of place. This is a room where people get bad news.

I am shocked to look up and find it is filled with people who are talking and clutching one another. Harley jackets and American flag bandanas are mixed with what I recognize to be Ford work clothing. We are only miles from where he works and it appears word has spread quickly.

There are not enough seats it seems and my anxiety rises. There are many faces I know but some I don’t. All communication and movement stops when I step into the room with Thelma. Eyes are glued to me filled with pain and sympathy. All I want is to see my husband and take him home. This is not what I bargained for.