My friend opened his eyes. He’d been unconscious for several days after the car accident. I was sitting by his bedside when he returned to the land of the living.
“Where…?” he mouthed the word.
“Don’t try to talk yet,” I said. “You’re in the hospital. You’ve been in an accident. You’ve got a broken arm and a broken leg. There were some internal injuries but you’re going to be okay. You’ve got a long road ahead of you, but you’re going to be okay.”
He closed his eyes for a few minutes. He took some deep breaths and then opened them again. He had enough energy to speak now, he seemed to remember where he was, and he said, “I was on the way to the hospital. My wife…”
It was the cruelest of coincidences – his wife had been in an accident too. And it broke my heart because I knew I was going to have to tell him the bad news.
“My wife, is she okay?” he asked more insistently.
I hung my head and put my hand on his shoulder. “I’m so sorry. No, she’s not. She died in the ER when they brought her in. She never regained consciousness.”
His face seemed to visibly fold in on itself. The man loved his wife. I didn’t know how he was going to go on without her. And I just couldn’t believe the universe had been so cruel to him… His wife was in a wreck, he got the call right when he got home, and he and his daughter rushed to the hospital to be with her… and then, because he wasn’t paying attention, he changed lanes on the freeway to get to the offramp and didn’t see the truck barreling down on him. His car flipped over when it was hit.
He suddenly remembered. “My daughter! She was with me! Is she okay? Is she okay?”
At that moment, more than anything else in the world, I wanted to disappear and go far, far away, and would have rather been anywhere else in the universe but in that hospital, having to deliver a second, perhaps a fatal blow to my best friend.
“I’m sorry.” I shook my head. “Don, your daughter died at the scene. If it’s… if it’s any consolation the paramedics said she didn’t feel a thing.”
My friend closed his eyes, and I expected him to break down and begin weeping, but somehow he didn’t. I could see a change in him, though, and I knew from that moment on he would never be the same. Something very deep inside my friend’s soul had just died, and whoever he was going to be, if he was still my friend, I knew he was going to be a different person.
“There’s one more thing, Don.” I had to choke back a sob. “They signed Ben Affleck to play Batman.”
The alarms brought a surge of doctors and nurses into the hospital room, but it was too late.
(Yes, this is satire.)