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Part 5: Why the Willow Weeps
by Jonathan Shute

Janice came to see herself less as a nurse than as a gentle steward for the departing. Any medical expertise she might possess was of little value in the terminal ward and she often felt as though her time at nursing school might have been better spent ontheological studies. .

If she fancied herself ineffective, it wasn't apparent in her enthusiasm for the job. Her life was devoted solely to the comfortable passage of those in her charge and she was
as kind to them as professional decorum permitted. As often as not her days off would be spent on the ward and many evenings she'd sleep off a difficult shift on a cot in the break room in lieu of going home Janice was the subject of gossip among the nursing
staff for not having a life away from work but she was usually too busy to suffer hurt feelings.

Although she tried not to play favorites she had, for the past several months been especially doting on the guy who wouldn't die in 208. Old Fred was down to one of every organ that God had given him two of and was the unhappy host to at least five different flavors of cancer. All manner of disease and attrition were competing over that
poor old man's carcass and it seemed to Janice that the diseases themselves must be keeping him alive so they'd have a place to stay.

Fred was the hands down record holder for taking up space on the death wing. It had been over a year since the doctors told him he had a matter of weeks to live and Janice took them at their word. She spent at least one day of each weekend and an hour or two
at the end of every shift reading to him from her favorite books. Whether Janice grew attached to Fred in spite of his looming departure or because of it seemed of little importance to her. She hadn't any family left to cling to so she embraced the misery that had taken those she held dear.

In her heart of hearts she knew that her affection for him was selfish.

(To be continued in the next issue)




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