Yesterday I paid a visit to a friend in hospital. He’d just been through a life-threatening operation, a real near miss.
As an old friend and former colleague, I had come late, much later than those WHO were active in the industry socializing activities. It was not until 10 days after he had been sent to the ICU when I learned it from a friend.
Not knowing what to bring along for the ward visit, I have had to consult my wife about the appropriate gift for him. Showing up at a hospital ward “barehanded” would seem counter-conventional or even nerdish, after all. A money envelope was finally agreed to be the most proper choice.
The COVID-19 vigilance was non-existent at the hospital. Unmasked people, health and sick, visitors and patients alike, were milling everywhere. I was not even asked by anyone at the entrance to the ward floor.
How would the vulnerable patients cope with the viruses brought along by others, I wondered.
Everyone looked nonchalant, at least to me, as though the hospital had become a safe haven ignored by the virus.
He was lying in bed, as though unconcerned, his wife waiting on at bedside, warning him to drop the cellphone. I felt a relief, a genuine assurance after seeing him in an ok condition.
Many of his friends had offered to take turns as watchmen at night, with an elaborate shift roaster. That was quite a scene, touching and heartwarming. I felt happy for him – with true friends in need, he seemed somehow contended with his misfortune.
When I passed him the red envelope to bid farewell, he made a slight mumble as if disapproval of my money gift. I know, I know, it is a little cheesy to give money to a friend. I felt somewhat weird too.
But I envy him indeed – would I be surrounded by as many friends as he had been if I was in his situation? I simply don’t have so many friends, and that’d made me feel empty and desolate.