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 wives and families, homes, jobs, their involvement in the military service and where they had been on vacation. Every afternoon when the man in the bed by the window was sat up, he passed 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 colour of the world outside.
The patient by the window described a charming 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 colour, 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 picturesque scene. One 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 brought it to life.
Weeks passed. One morning, the day nurse arrived only to find the lifeless body of the man by the window, who had passed peacefully in his sleep. Saddened, she called the attendants to take the body away. As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window. The nurse made the switch, and after making sure he was comfortable, she started to leave him alone.
Painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the world outside. He looked out the window beside the bed. It faced a blank wall! He asked the nurse what could have compelled his deceased roommate to describe such wonderful things outside the window.
The nurse said, “Mr. Harvey was blinded in the war. He thought the world of you, and he knew how trapped and helpless you felt. Though he was penniless, he gave you everything he had left, his imagination and love.”