Friday, May 15, 2020

Shirt Off My Back

Let's go see a movie, Earl invites
over the phone.
What's playing?
Who cares! Mid-terms are over.
We need to celebrate!

I arrive on my motorcycle,
Earl in his car.
I can't remember what we watched;
But it is dark and cold
When we get out.

Earl takes off his long sleeve shirt.
He winks,
I am literally giving you the shirt off my back.
We laugh,
I put it on and we go our separate ways.

Twelve years later
I ask a nurse.
Is there a place I can take a shower?
I need to run my worry down.

She shakes her head.
Not here, not on this floor.
Go down to pediatrics
They have showers for parents.

The elevator door opens
I run to the first nurse I see
Can I take a shower here?

The Nurse turns.
Lindas eyes glow with joy filled recognition.
Mushroom! She hugs me.
What are you doing here?

I tell her our son is upstairs.
He's been hit by a Buick
While riding his motorcycle.
She gives me another hug
And leads me to the showers.

I didn't know Linda called Earl.
The next day, Earl walks in
To the trauma unit walking
Side by side with Linda.

I had to call him , Linda says.
You're his best friend.
He flew in this morning
from the east coast.

I hug Earl and cry,
What a good friend you are!
You really didnt have to come
All this way.

I had to come.
I'll do anything,
I'll even give you the shirt off my back,
Again, if you need it.

Now, they come to me with their grief,
They come tired, teary eyed, and cold,
Without their dead sons,
Without their dead daughters.

I sit and listen to their sad stories,
Even though I've heard them before.
I sit and wait without saying a word
When a lump in their throats chokes all their words.

I give them my heart
As we sit together and talk.
I give them my presence.
Because I am one of them,
I give them the shirt off my back.

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