Show and tell

“Let’s move this table out of the way,” Kevin said. He rolled over in his hospital bed and shoved the rolling table aside, while I scooted my chair closer.

I held up my iPhone so both of us could see the screen. I poked and prodded and showed Kevin a little trick; setting Spotlight search so that Application results were at the top of the list, and turning off unneeded results like Mail or Podcasts to speed up search, so that he could use Spotlight as an application launcher, as I’ve been doing ever since I accumlated more than 3 screens worth of apps.

It was a small moment in my visit. The dark hospital room, late at night. Him laying in bed, in scrubs, unshaven, tired but still alert.

I felt the sadness at his illness, which seemed vastly unfair for a man six years my junior. I could see that he did not want to be alone, but knew that I had to leave in less than 20 minutes, to ride the bus back to my side of town. I knew that he was an extrovert; he drew energy from interacting with others, nearly my opposite in that regard.

I felt the long years we had known each other, and the laughter we’d shared, and the occassional bitter words that estranged us for a long-but-short time. I fretted about the effect of all this on his wife, and his children, so young to be exposed to a truth about life’s ebb and flow.

And I remembered a nerdy chubby 12 year old, so many years ago, showing off something cool when his 6 year old friend came to visit. The 12 year old me, patient but excited, explaining the intricacies of some electronic doodad he’d been given, sharing with the 6 year old Kevin, and then the two of them making up stories about it and losing themselves in play for an afternoon, until his parents came in to tell him they were going home.

Some things never change, I suppose. Except that the past gets layered on top of current events, shading what’s happening. Those layers are what we call nostalgia.

The fear and anger at what the near future holds, though – do we have a name for that?