The Hospital Room
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 flat on his back. The men talked for hours on end. They spoke
of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in the
military service, where they had been on vacation. And every afternoon when the
man in the bed by the window could sit up, he would pass the 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 color of the
world outside. The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake. Ducks and swans
played on the water while children sailed their model boats. Young lovers walked
arm in arm amidst flowers of every color of the rainbow. Grand old trees graced
the landscape, and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the
distance. As the man by the window described all this in exquisite detail, the
man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine the
One warm afternoon the man by the window described a parade passing by. Although
the other man couldn't hear the band - he could see it in his mind's eye as the
gentleman by the window portrayed it with descriptive words.
Then unexpectedly, a sinister thought entered his mind. Why should the other man
alone experience all the pleasures of seeing everything while he himself never
got to see anything? It didn't seem fair. At first thought the man felt ashamed.
But as the days passed and he missed seeing more sights, his envy eroded into
resentment and soon turned him sour. He began to brood and he found himself
unable to sleep. He should be by that window - that thought, and only that
thought now controlled his life.
Late one night as he lay staring at the ceiling, the man by the window began to
cough. He was choking on the fluid in his lungs. The other man watched in the
dimly lit room as the struggling man by the window groped for the button to call
for help. Listening from across the room he never moved, never pushed his own
button which would have brought the nurse running in. In less than five minutes
the coughing and choking stopped, along with that the sound of breathing. Now
there was only silence-deathly silence.
The following morning the day nurse arrived to bring water for their baths.
When she found the lifeless body of the man by the window, she was saddened and
called the hospital attendants to take it 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 left him alone. Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to
take his first look at the world outside. Finally, he would have the joy of
seeing it all himself. He strained to slowly turn to look out the window beside
It faced a blank wall.
The man asked the nurse what could have compelled his deceased roommate who had
described such wonderful things outside this window. The nurse responded that
the man was blind and could not even see the wall.
She said, "Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you."
Epilogue. . . .
You can interpret the story in any way you like. But one moral stands out:
There is tremendous happiness in making others happy, despite our own
situations. Shared grief is half the sorrow, but happiness when shared, is
doubled. If you want to feel rich, just count all of the things you have that
money can't buy.