The thing about doing the late shift as a medical scientist is that you often get called up to collect the blood from hospital patients after everyone else has gone home. Being that is was Christmas eve, everyone went home extra early leaving 2 people on as the skeleton crew. I was one of them.
He was old and frail and the arm in which I took the blood from was as limp as if it didn’t have an bones left in it. We talked for a while. Him, to strike a conversation with the only visitor on the eve before Christmas. Me, to calm my nerves being new at taking blood from someone that I’ve taken previously.
In that moment there was a special bond formed. I knew a bit more about him and he knew a bit more about me. Despite the fact it was only for a short time, I think we both understood just how lonely that night meant for us. So despite doing my job, my smile was sincere as were my wishes for him. I hoped that he would get better. I know I would make an effort to keep track of his progress.
Leaving the confines of the hospital’s critical care unit, I began to take note of all the other wards around. Those that had family by them in the hours counting down to Christmas and particularly those that were as silent and empty as the patients who stared into the blank wall or the blaring TV. In a country where Christmas is a holiday that brings people together in cheer, the unvisited dark rooms felt desperately gloomy. Even in my own solitude and melancholy, I know I still had my own health and at the own day, I got to go home. These people deserved more than they were getting.
So I made a choice, if I could the next time around, I would spend more time with those who didn’t deserve their solitude. Even if I was alone, I know it was still my own choice. I know I still could do something about it, and I would and I will. No one deserves to be alone on Christmas. Even if it’s a meaningless tradition based upon a pagan ritual. Even if its heavily rooted onto a monotheistic belief I have no faith in, Christmas still means something to me, and I would wish it about those that have no one to share it with.
It’s the least I could do.