Hal made me crazy. A few years ago, it seemed like he came to the emergency department weekly, sometimes daily, looking for drugs. He had every ridiculous, contrived, superficial complaint imaginable. He was loud, angry, and often threatened lawsuits or other trouble. I think he even threatened us with violence once. Furthermore, his family was well connected. He was the worst sort of drug-seeking, drug-abusing, soul-draining patient you can imagine. And many of you can imagine them very clearly!
He came back today. Without a vacant look, without any unsubstantiated illness or bizarre injury, without profanity or threats. He looked different. He looked…normal! His hands were thick and calloused from his job. He was showered and shaved. His clothes clean and neat.
Since I had last seen him, he experienced cancer, then apparently experienced drug rehab. He is doing well on Methadone. He was apologetic about the past. All I could say was ‘that was then, this is now,’ as I felt liberated to check into his new complaint, thoroughly unrelated to pain or the need for drugs.
He was, in an odd way, reborn to me. It was a perfect Easter gift. A person I thought was long lost, now once more among the living. I pray that he stays that way.
Old Hal made me think bad thoughts. Old Hal made me want to throw things and slam down charts. New Hal made me realize that in every nut, every abuser, every drunk, every psychopathic manipulater lies the embryo of a human being, waiting to come to life.
Thanks for the gift, Hal. And Happy Easter to you! He is risen, he is risen indeed!
God is great…