One Good Thing

Jodi lay on what she knew to be her deathbed, and thought about life. It was impossible for her to think about death. She’d been thinking about death for the past three years, ever since the doctors had found the first tumor. But in a few hours, the doctors said, she would die. They’d offered her morphine, to ease the pain, but she’d refused. It wasn’t because she was particularly strong, nor because she desired to suffer. It was merely that she wanted to think about life a little before she died, and she knew that she wouldn’t do that in the blissful haze that morphine gave her.

She wasn’t a very good woman. Ninety-three years old and her neighbors had been wishing her dead for two decades already. She knew that no one liked her. But that was alright. She’d realized sometime during her sixties that she didn’t like herself much either. At first she went to therapy and tried to fix herself. After four sessions, she’d decided that there was no reason to fix something that had been broken for so long, and anyway, Doctor Haddock was simply gaga.

Lying in the stinking hospital room, on her soiled sheets, Jodi wondered whether she’d done anything good in her life. She thought of her children, and concluded that they turned out to be good people despite her, not because of her. Her husband of forty-five years had died a long time ago, and she didn’t think that she’d made his life better. She thought, upon reflection, that he would have done better to have married his mistress when he started having an affair. She didn’t begrudge him anymore. Her grandchildren she hardly knew, although they were all in their twenties and probably having babies of their own by now. But her children had both run away to far corners of the earth, and so she’d never come to know their offspring well. Better this way, really, because her death wouldn’t be of much notice to anyone.

But surely, she thought frantically, she must have done something good in her life. No one would remember her for long, it was true, and if anyone did they’d remember a gruff, violent old woman who couldn’t hear very well but insisted that she did. They’d remember her spiteful cackle and the way she never opened the door for children at Halloween. None of this bothered Jodi, not really, but she still thought that there must have been something good in her, sometime.

A strange memory came upon her as she stared at the boring whitewashed ceiling. An image floated across her mind’s eye, an image of a red-haired girl giving a flower to an old drunk on the street and handing him a thermos full of strong black coffee. She remembered the man blessing that red-haired teenager, who was wearing a frightfully short yellow dress, and calling her “ma’am.” She remembered the red-haired girl laughing merrily, giving him five dollars – more than a month’s worth of allowance back then – and telling him to get a job. Finally, the last image she could see was of a janitor whistling as he swept the floors in an old office building where the red haired girl worked as a secretary. She remembered the red-haired girl smiling at him and shaking his hand and the man blessing her for the coffee and the money, but most of all for giving him hope.

Jodi’s crabbed fingers clutched at the call-button. A nurse came in, warily. She was new, and she’d heard horror stories about the old woman’s temper.

“Tell the doctors that I want the morphine, girl,” Jodi said in her rasping voice. “And be quick!” The young nurse jumped, surprised at the vigor in the words and hurried off without a word.

Jodi smiled to herself, toothless, sunken-cheeked and liver-spotted. She’d done one good thing in her life. That was good enough.

Vibes

One of the most magnificent and incredible things to me are how days can change from being unbearable to face to being calm, peaceful, enjoyable and rewarding. There are those mornings where you may wake up and just feel so tired, so sad, so completely unprepared to face a day of work and socializing and exercise and travel. And yet, when the day goes by, step by step, you realize that you’re going through the motions without a negative thought in your head.

What is it about human nature that makes us so utterly easy and open to change of moods? Not always, of course not – sometimes we’ll retain a bad mood for hours and refuse to let ourselves budge from it. And yet, sometimes the simple act of human kindness, of a smile or a voice, can help raise our spirits. Sometimes even nice weather and a light breeze can be enough to raise a smile on our lips.

It also always seems to happen most that when we don’t expect it, we suddenly experience the change. In the midst of a raging temper, one might be startled into a laugh. In between sobs, someone might be kind enough to make us smile. We are fickle creatures indeed, but one cannot help but be thankful for it if it helps us get rid of bad vibes.

Seeing Red

For a moment, the heat rises from the very tips of the toes all the way to the smallest nerve-endings in the fingertips and from thence to every part of the face. The heat rushes through the veins and tendons, searching out every muscle that can be flexed and made taught. For only a moment, all this happens unfettered by thought, by reality, by anything except the pure and unending rage.

In the one, pure moment before thought, the body is entirely out of its owner’s control, ruled by temper and animal instinct. But for a moment only. Muscles taught, blood pulsing wildly, hands clenching and unclenching, the thoughts nevertheless rise to meet rationality, reality and morals. The rage fights to be heard, to be let out, and while the body might lash out, hit, rend, tear and scratch, it will now be done with the knowledge of what is right, what is wrong, and what hurt is being inflicted because of the temper.

Rage and Temper – two harsh masters of which we all would want to be free. Alas, they are part of our natures. It is only that in some they rise to the surface more quickly, while some are lucky enough to have them lie dormant most of the time.