The Sixth Dimension

Said he would call you shortly, my father texts from his bed in the cardiac unit. He’s referring to the “hospitalist,” a relatively new term as annoying and ambiguous as the passage of time in a hospital. Thought today or over the weekend for possible discharge.

Could he be any more vague? I respond.

Hospital time. That indeterminately noncommittal measurement of consults and rounds, case updates and test results and discharge dates. In a hospital, time takes on a nonlinear dimension, its flow seemingly in perpetual limbo. In a hospital, time knows no hour.

I’ve entered this dimension before.

I’ve felt that indeterminate uncertainty in the numerous trips to the ER with my mother and father and husband over the past five years. Waiting for calls, for answers, for something, for anything to propel us forward, each time alternating patience and persistence with irritation and anger.

And here I sit, surrounded by old clocks that stopped years ago. Stuck in this time warp of an old farmhouse where my father once lived, unwound like my mother’s descent into dementia. Here, time carelessly unspools, its ebb and flow as unconcerned as the tides in our cove. Because in the end, I realize, life is all about accepting what is.