Heart-shaped Pillow

by Scott Smith

I still can’t shake the anger.

Heart-shaped Pillow

I remember first walking into CCU (Cardiac Care Unit) at Rogue Valley Medical Center. Disturbing. I’m not sure anyone in the unit wasn’t on a respirator, wasn’t connected to a myriad of machines — just like my father.

The next day, I’d see these same patients sitting up, clutching a heart-shaped pillow. Their eyes were hollow and bodies recovering from what I can’t even imagine.

My father never did have that moment. This is not anger directed at the staff — he couldn’t have asked for better care. It may be a sports cliche, but the CCU staff left it all on the field.

I’m mad that I didn’t get to see him clutch his own pillow and greet me with that  gapped-tooth grin we share.