Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room. One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain the fluid from his lungs. His bed was next to the room’s only window. The other man had to spend all his time on his back.
The men talked for hours on end. They began by telling each other about their illnesses but, eventually, their talks became more intimate, as they spoke of their wives and families, their homes, jobs, their involvement in the military service, where they had been on vacation and other personal matters.
Every afternoon, when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, he would pass time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window. The man in the other bed began to live for those one hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and colour of the world outside.
This window overlooks a park with a lovely lake. Ducks and swans play on the water while children sail their model boats.” the man by the window said. “Young lovers walk arm in arm amidst flowers of every colour and a fine view of the city skyline can be seen in the distance.”
While the man by the window described this in exquisite detail, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine the picturesque scene. His smile growing with every new piece of detail told to him.
One afternoon, the man by the window described a parade passing by. Although, the other man couldn’t hear the band, any commotion or excitement — he could see it in his mind’s eye, as the gentleman by the window portrayed it with descriptive words.
Days, weeks and months went by as this became a daily routine. Small chitchat and an hour of the view of the outside world. One morning, the day nurse entered the room to bring water for their baths only to find the lifeless body of the man by the window, who had died peacefully in his sleep. She was saddened but called the hospital attendants to take the body away.
As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to make the switch and after making sure he was comfortable, she began straightening up the room.
Slowly and painfully, the man propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the real world outside that he had heard so much about. He strained to slowly look out the window. It faced a blank wall. The man was confused and somewhat disappointed. He looked forward to seeing all the wonderful things his roommate had described to him. The park, the lake, the ducks and swans. None of that could be seen from the bedside window.
Feeling a little frustrated the man asked the nurse, “What could have compelled my roommate to lie to me like he did? He described such wonderful things outside this window but nothing he spoke of can be seen. All that is visible is that ugly grey blank wall. Why did he lie to me?”
Didn’t he tell you?” the nurse responded, “He was blind so he couldn’t see the wall. But maybe he described such wonderful things because they were visions in his mind and he wanted to encourage you?’ The man laid back on his bed and let out a sigh as he softly said, “Yes, that he did.” Then he whispered to himself, “Thank you for sharing your wonderful world, my friend.”