Part B The Hospital Window
Jack and Ben, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room. Jack, whose bed was next to the room's only window, was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain the fluid from his lungs. But Ben had to spend all day and night flat on his bed. To kill time the two men began to talk. They talked for hours about their wives, families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in the military service, and where they had been on vacation. As days went by, a deep friendship began to develop between them.
Every afternoon when Jack could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to Ben all the things he could see outside the window. And Ben began to live for those one-hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and color of the world outside.
The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake. Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats. Young lovers walked arm in arm amid flowers of every color of the rainbow. Grand old trees beautified the landscape, and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance.
As Jack described all this in exquisite detail, Ben would close his eyes and imagine the picturesque scenes.
One warm afternoon Jack described a parade passing by. Although Ben couldn't hear the band -- he could see it in his mind's eye as Jack portrayed it with descriptive words.
Days and weeks passed. One morning the day nurse arrived to bring water for their baths only to find the lifeless body of Jack, who had died peacefully in his sleep. She was saddened and called the hospital attendants to take the body away.
Ben was heart broken. Life without Jack was even more unbearable. How he longed to hear Jack's voice and his melodious descriptions of the outside world! As he looked at the window, an idea suddenly occurred to him. Perhaps he could see for himself what it was like outside. As soon as it seemed a<em>pp</em>ropriate, Ben asked if he could be moved next to the window. The nurse was ha<em>pp</em>y to make the switch, and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone.
Slowly, painfully, he pro<em>pp</em>ed himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the world outside. Finally, he would have the joy of seeing it for himself! He strained to slowly turn to look out the window beside the bed. It faced a blank wall!
'What could have compelled my roommate to describe such wonderful things outside this window?' Ben asked the nurse when she returned.
'Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you to live on,' she said. 'You know, he was blind and could not even see the wall.'