Room 483

Contributed By Sheila Brennan

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As I sit in my cubicle, I glance directly across the room at Roy’s empty office in CHNM and the nameplate for Room 483. Peaking inside his office you can tell that he intended to be back: half-full water bottles and plastic cups stand on the desk; a book with the cover broken in from the grip of a strong hand sits on the table attached to his resting chair waiting to be finished; papers on his desk are ready to be filed, answered, or thrown away. After a quick glance, his black sweater is not visible but it might be hiding on the floor underneath his desk.

He planned to be back at work, just like after other stays in the hospital. Roy maintained such a strong and steadfast commitment to CHNM, his colleagues, and his students throughout the past year and a half that would have been remarkable for a healthy person, never mind for someone carrying around an ever-present opponent in his body.

As we try to figure out what comes next, those of us working in the “west wing” fix our attention on the construction site outside our window. That activity provides an excellent distraction from the emptiness of Room 483.