In front of the Veteran Administration Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina, I see a white van unloading a man in a wheelchair.
He has two helpers, a nurse and a man carrying an oxygen tank. The front of his wheelchair is full of electronic gadgets and sensors. The back, between the wheels, has a monitor with tubes neatly tied to one side. His wheelchair is his portable mean to live on the go.
He is a young, good-looking, clean-cut Black man in his late twenties or early thirties and his skinny frail body does not show muscle mass under his clothes.
He does not wear shoes, why should he?
He is a quadriplegic moving his wheelchair with the help of a joystick under his chin. He has a tracheotomy tube, for him to breathe, cut in the center of his neck.
He smiles at his helpers but he does not utter a word.
The only noticeable working part of his body is his face. A face hung on a head with a bobbing weak neck holding a strong chin steering the wheelchair. His lips stretch a large glowing smile for being outside.
His face and his brain are the only things giving him an existence. Maybe he was smiling with his thoughts, memories of before and now.
Everyone, I mean everyone who goes to the VA was at one time fit and healthy. They got disabled for a flag, a territory, political ideas, and lots of because.
His lips were smiling and I am glad he never saw me looking at him. If our eyes had met, I am sure I would have smiled back but I would fear for him to construe my smile as a sign of anything to ruin his day. His being shatters me and makes me insecure.
He does not need my thoughts, his are bigger than mine. I feel but he senses feelings and I cannot allow him to make mistakes.
I cannot comprehend people liking songs for which they never take time to listen and understand the words. They are pseudo intellectual tourists thinking that seeing the Tour Eiffel or the Empire State Building is to know France or the USA. Sheeps liking because others like.
After, the man disappeared in the entrance of the hospital a song came to mind. Imagine by John Lennon. The lyrics are a statement to our human kind. We listen to the song but have lost the know how to materialize what we should and can imagine.
Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for…