When I was 7 years old, I went to the hospital with my parents to visit my father’s coworker. The man was a good friend of my father’s and he had a heart attack that would lead to a coronary bypass surgery.
We walked through the halls and passed by the pediatrics department. There was a little girl, about my age, playing in common area. She looked very ill and was hooked up to an IV pump but she still had enough energy to push a car around a track. We made eye contact and she smiled at me. As I continued to stare at her, she beckoned for me to come in and join her. I looked away and continued down the hall with my parents.
After we visited my father’s coworker, we passed by the room with the girl. She waved and motioned for me to come in again. I didn’t. I was terrified of her. I shook my head “no” and she stuck her tongue at me. Then she plopped down on the floor with a solemn expression.
A few weeks later, my father’s coworker returned to work. My father took the man out to lunch to welcome him back. A few hours after that lunch, he called the man into his office and fired him. Not longer after that, the man had another heart attack.
I wonder if my father ever regretted firing his friend as much as I regretted ignoring that little girl