It is a lonely place

“You have no idea what it’s like,” he said to me tearfully.

“What’s that?”

“Being sick, really sick, and all alone.”

A small row of locked rooms comprises the infirmary at the prison. There is no one in the hall, no sounds, not even the murmur of a TV through the solid steel doors.

A correctional officer will come and open a door if I would like to enter for a brief visit.

Some offenders are quarantined if they are contagious. Conversations with those men are held at the door if they can get up and come over. Nothing spreads faster than an illness in a prison, plus one never knows who within the population has a compromised immune system.

Others may be segregated from contact due to unpredictable or violent behavior. Again, those are best held at the door.

Those who are terminal have daily attention from any one of several hospice-trained prisoners, a dedicated group of grace-filled workers. I can visit them as well.

But most in the infirmary are there for a short time, are safe, and can be visited. I don’t stay long, communion may be desired. Emotions are always just below the surface, especially when I ask if I may give them a blessing.

Yes, it is a lonely place, and, yes, I have no idea what it’s like.

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