Our rental car pulls into the parking lot. I have little desire to step out. I’m more interested in sulking. Auto-reverse is active on my Walkman, so Depeche Mode’s lamentations can loop.
My teenage self esteem, coupled with this blah-pop let me pretend I’m deep—but I’m actually pouting. (All credit to my parents, who withstand the urge to smack me upside my head.)
But there it is: A hospital, filled with old Finnish people I don’t know. Skipping from this visit isn’t an option, so I begrudgingly follow Mom, Dad, and my brother into the place.
My Finnish isn’t strong. Plus, I’m 15. Even if I spoke the language properly, I wouldn’t know what to say. I watch, pretend to listen, and count the minutes until we can leave. My parents are friends with him—I’m not sure how. I wonder why old people are so boring.
He’s blind, and his legs are gone. Wrapped in a nest of wires and tubes, he hardly moves. He’s never leaving this bed alive. He’ll spend his last days in this terrible beige room. I want out of this place. Anything else seems better than this.
The minutes pass like hours, but eventually, we leave. Outside, the sun is shining, and the breeze is fresh. Someday I might need to be in a place like that, but not today. My life is ahead of me. Everything has changed since we walked into that hospital.
Bad days happen, and sometimes you’ll be blue. Just don’t forget that moments are fleeting. One day you won’t be able to choose how you spend them.