Didn’t they know?

More from Rich Dixon


Last time you left me stuck in an elevator, facing the back wall, unable to move. I imagined that this frustrating day represented a microcosm of the rest of my life.

Down and up. Doors opened and someone boarded. Moved again, stopped. People entered and departed behind me. I tried to ask for help, but machinery noise drowned my hoarse whisper of a voice. Life continued behind me while I remained jammed between the walls, locked rigid by the halo. Unable to turn or talk, I could only stare at the blank rear wall.

Eventually someone leaned over and asked if I was OK. Couldn’t shake my head – stupid halo brace – so I croaked a quiet, “No.”

He helped me get to the right floor. I rolled into the hallway, paused beside a window, glared sullenly at the parking lot and the street beyond. Doctors rushed in and out, cars came and went.

Didn’t they know life had ended? Didn’t they know the world was filled with pain and frustration and loss? How could they just go on, as if nothing had happened?


I struggled back to my room, convinced I’d never make it, angry with everyone for making me try.

Leave me alone!

Of course, I eventually conquered the elevator and other more difficult obstacles. Thankfully, they didn’t leave me alone; despite my anger and disbelief, they kept me going.

When I’m at the hospital, I often ride that same elevator. I laugh when I recall guessing which car would arrive next, riding up and down, convinced my skeleton would be discovered years later.

I tell this story frequently. The account always elicits a good laugh.

Of course, I don’t include the part about the window and everyone who went on their way, oblivious to the fact that the world had ended.

That part wasn’t so funny.

To be continued…

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