The soapy water swirled at the bottom of the sink, a kaleidoscope of blood spinning dizzily with the water until it fell towards the sewers under the building. I shook off my hands and grabbed for a towel. My work was done for today. Tomorrow I would come back and do it again.
The monotony of my life had fallen into step beside me years ago. The ever-haunting ideal of what one does when he grows up is just another way of asking what you are willing to do for money. Or what you think you can make money at. But in the end you usually don’t end up doing something you really like – just something that pays the bills.
You show up and do what needs done before the day ends and go home to, once again, check the ticker on your computer showing the days until retirement arrives.
I stepped out into the hall and then to another room. A quick look at the charts told me what I was to do here. An unwed mother probably. I tried to urge up some sympathy to the young girl laying on the table with tears streaming down her face. But I couldn’t. Instead, I pulled one of the phrases I used in the past for this kind of thing.
“It will be ok, it’s not your fault.” A quick glance in the eyes and she would probably believe I meant it.
I set up my tools to do what needed to be done, and set to work. I quickly instructed the nurses around me at what I needed or how to keep the girl calm. The atmosphere in the room was considerably different from the one I had just come from. While they both possessed the same operating room feel to them the first had, even to me, held the feel of an excitement and joy that couldn’t be crushed. This one held the bemoaning of an unhappily pregnant young woman. Guilt filled the air and seemed to stiffen around everyone in it.
What was the difference? Me. Yes, that was the answer. It was what I was doing, performing, working at in the room that caused the change. In one room I was assisting a life as it came into the world. And in this one, I was ridding the world of an unwanted life.
How did these two things become the work I would do for so long? The contrast of my days was like the difference of day and night. One hour I would do everything possible to keep a child safe, the next I would do everything possible to make sure the mass of tissue would be properly expelled.
Yes, it was just what I did to pay the bills. If I didn’t do it, somebody would. I had chosen this for my work many, many years ago. What would it do for me to change it now? The questions mulled through my head every day. And every day I found myself less able to ward them away.
The air cut from my lungs. Finally, the putrid smell of death had arrived. I could now leave the girl to the nurses who would instruct her on what needed to be done in order to stay healthy.
I couldn’t take it any longer. I ran towards the exit at the end of the hall. Finally overtaken by the guilt of my work, I sobbed. I had finally thought of the answer to my questions. What was I? What was my work? Life and death. That was my job. I went from savior to murderer in one swift and easy move. And I couldn’t do this anymore.
“Oh, God, what have I done?” The question escaped before I could stop it. I had pushed at it long enough it finally just came. “What have I done.” In the calm of the subtle wind about me, the answer was given.
Yes, my child, you have sinned. But I came, and died that you may live without sin. And now that you know this, you will go on to do a far greater things than you had ever dreamt. You, my beloved son, will do my work, you will bring life to those who have but a thread of hope to live. And you will do it well.
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