Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Vigilists

It's just a pile of stone and glass. It's not supposed to be responsive. Yet, just like falling snow can make an entire city quieter, early Sunday mornings do something to a hospital.

Outside the entrance three middle aged people who look related are standing aside, speaking softly. A young woman paces back and forth, talking on a cell phone. As you pass by she's saying, "I didn't expect all these questions. It's kind of overwhelming you know." In the lobby a teenager is sleeping in a chair, her purse for a pillow and a denim jacket for a blanket. These are the vigilists.

Most are strangers to one another and will remain so, but they have one thing in common. Just right now their lives are frozen in time, waiting for news. The day may pass without news. The news may come and confirm their worst fears. Less than a mile away the world remains its dizzying diversity of activity. Less than a mile away someone feeds the cat then reads the morning paper. Less than a mile away Starbucks employees are arriving at work. In this place though, early Sunday morning is mostly about the vigils.

Of course it's not uniform even here, now. Over by the elevators a family group is all smiles, perhaps discussing a late night delivery from the Stork. Life goes on.

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