An In­ex­pe­ri­enced En­counter with Death

Wexford People - - NEWS - by Joshua McLough­lin

AS I sat tim­o­rously, legs crossed in the wait­ing room, my wor­ried eyes were drawn to the clock. How much time did I have left? Should I be out there en­joy­ing my last days on earth? I gulped and took a lengthy, ner­vous breath, ad­just­ing my bur­gundy tie that was worn loosely around my neck. I sat up in the cush­ioned yet un­com­fort­able chair, and scoured the room for other peo­ple like me: vic­tims to the un­for­tu­nate fate that is demise. One man, a chubby gen­tle­man across the room, seemed to have plunged face-first into a chasm filled with ven­omous snakes. His face bulged a red-pink colour and oozed a slimy liq­uid. My fo­cus then switched briskly to the face of a woman with a pale com­plex­ion and sickly vis­age. She was star­ing straight ahead at the olive-coloured walls, her eyes un­blink­ing. The glob­u­lar man strug­gled to get up as his name was called. He wad­dled, slowly to­wards the Doc­tor’s of­fice be­fore squeez­ing in the door­way. I imag­ined the Doc­tor’s shocked look. Af­ter all these years of doc­tor­ing surely he had never seen such a plump man, or such a glow­ing face.

To dis­tract my­self from the eerie re­minder that this was a place of ill­ness and death, I looked upon the glass cof­fee ta­ble in front of me. Rest­ing pre­car­i­ously on the edge was a colour­ful mag­a­zine, the only some­what chro­matic thing in the en­tire room (that, and my bur­gundy tie, of course.) I reached over and took the mag­a­zine, plac­ing it on my lap to first re­ceive my pen be­fore con­tin­u­ing. I stuck my fin­gers into my breast pocket, pluck­ing out my blue pen and I opened the mag­a­zine, skip­ping the ini­tial swim­suit sec­tion. Per­haps glanc­ing at only the beau­ti­ful flo­ral pat­terns as I went, as I am a mar­ried man. Flick­ing to the crossword puz­zle at the back, he­si­tant not to graze my ban­daged fin­ger, I read­ied my biro.

‘Four let­ters, a group of ot­ters.’ I knew this, as I had an undy­ing love for the lit­tle river crea­tures. ‘R – O – M – P.’ Quite a weird word, that! I wrote the let­ters into the boxes, care­ful not to write out­side of the lines. ‘Six let­ters, as­tro­log­i­cal sign of one born on June the first.’ I looked up from the mag­a­zine, eyes widened by what I just read. This was an omen, wasn’t it? An in­di­ca­tion that I would die of Can­cer. That, or I will be mu­ti­lated by a gi­ant crab. Unan­tic­i­pat­edly, an an­cient face peered over from my right. Was this Death him­self ? Com­ing to take me to the af­ter­life? I closed my eyes, brac­ing for the worst.

“It’s Gemini,” the el­derly gen­tle­man stated softly in my ear.

I turned to face him, my eyes still en­larged by my pre­vi­ous thoughts. Nod­ding awk­wardly, I jot­ted down the cor­rect an­swer into the crossword. I’m over­think­ing things. That’s all. Of course, it’s Gemini. I was just be­ing silly. At this point, I thought it would be a good idea to put down the mag­a­zine and re­lax, and that I did. My pen was re­turned safely into my pocket and my head tilted back, rest­ing off of the wait­ing room wall. In that mo­ment, I felt at peace. I was ready for the worst.

I must have dozed off as I awoke to the sound of my name be­ing called out by the re­cep­tion­ist. I rose off the hard seat and re­trieved my coat jacket from the back of the chair. I walked slowly -in time with my anx­ious breath­ing- to­wards the door to the doc­tor’s of­fice. Turn­ing the cold, brass knob, I en­tered. I had never thought about death, un­til then. It had al­ways seemed like a dis­tant thing. I imag­ined only ex­pe­ri­enc­ing it once I had reached my el­derly years. I could see me, bedrid­den, sur­rounded by my im­me­di­ate fam­ily. I didn’t ex­pect ‘Sir Snake Bites’ and ‘Mrs Mal­nour­ish­ment’ to be my last hu­man con­tact. That is, of course, be­fore I meet the doc­tor.

“Good af­ter­noon, Mis­ter- “The doc­tor briefly checked his clip­board, held loosely within his grasp. “-Edwards,” I smiled, and walked to­wards the doc­tor, who was ges­tur­ing in the di­rec­tion an empty seat. “Sit down, please.”

It must be ter­ri­ble news.

“So, what is it, doc?” I asked, with a quiv­er­ing voice. “Well,” he ex­haled, “You’ll need maybe, say, five stitches.”

I laughed in relief. A great weight, in that mo­ment, dis­ap­peared from my shoul­ders. “You know,” the doc­tor chuck­led, “what did you ex­pect from a small cut like that? Death?”

Teacher Kara Cahill’s LC1 class with Billy Roche (from left), back– Kiera Bates Crosbie, Caoimhe McGuire, Ais­ling Ryan, Conor Kehoe, Leon Cleary, Eoin Wright, Erik Molyneux, Kevin Breen, Cor­mac Doyle, Me­gan Doyle, Jamie Walsh and Conor Smyth; seated –...

Joshua McLough­lin.

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