Do You Know Who I Am?
Photo courtesy of visualartshop.com
Do you see me? Or am I just another body
Hunkered down in a hospital gown with his
Head hidden under white starched sheets
With eyes full of fright and heart pounding...
Do you know my name? Or am I just a number
Written in grease pen on a board in the emergency
Room awaiting his fate? And if you did know my
Name would you even care? Would it even matter?
Did you hear me? Or did you just give me drugs to
Shut me up and knock me out so that no one would
Have to listen to the crazy man in the isolation room
Asking questions that no one had the time to answer...
Do you feel me? Or do your mask, gown and thick
Latex gloves complete the final detachment, make
The chasm between us insurmountable? Your voice
Sounds kind, but your actions border on abject cruelty...
Do you know me? I am a human being, perhaps we
Have more things in common than you realize, but in
Order to know, you would actually have to take down
That detached, professional barrier and make contact...
Do you feel anything? Do you see tears in my eyes
And feel a tightening in your chest? Or is it against
Some unwritten rule than hospital personnel cannot
Hold a hand or offer a cold cloth, or take time to listen?
Do you know who I am? I am your Brother, your Father,
Your cousin, your best friend, your neighbor, I am the
Guy who delivers your water, or cuts your lawn, or takes
Your trash away, I am a human being in pain and terror...
Perhaps the next person you come across with eyes
Wide with fright and tear stained cheeks will make you
Think back on the man you treated the day before, the man
Who reminded you what it was like to be a human being...
Perhaps you'll remember how frightened he was, and how
Just a few kind, gentle words would have eased his mind
And made him feel as if his life actually mattered to you,
Maybe you'll remember his pain, his tears, his pleas...
Maybe you will look down at another terrified human being
And remember that you're a human being as well, and that
The power of life and death lies within your hands, maybe
Then you'll will remember that no one is just a number...
That each person who comes into your emergency room
Is scared, sick, in pain and looking for some sort of relief
Or consolation, a pat on the hand, a smile, an expression
Of concern that 's genuine and doesn't have to be forced...
Maybe you'll know their name before they have to tell you,
And when they reach out a hand for support you'll take it,
And not pull back as if they had broken some cardinal
Rule, maybe you'll think that it could be you in that bed...
And maybe, just maybe, you'll remember who I am,
You'll remember that human beings get frightened,
You'll remember what it feels like to be on the other
Side of that mask, and you'll feel your heart soften...
We don't ask for much, just a bit of human kindness,
A smile, a validation of our pain and fright, a soft
Touch on the arm, anything that makes us feel as
If we actually truly matter to you in some small way...
Do You Know Who I Am?