Residue

My pass from visiting the jail this morning wouldn’t come off.

It’s one of those cheap, peel off sticky name thingies, except it doesn’t have my name, just the date, and it is color coded based on the section of the jail I will be visiting.  Mine is always green.  Medium security.

I was wearing my favorite shirt, of course.  A shirt, incidentally, I can’t seem to find anywhere.  I would order six more of them if I could find them, but I can’t.  They made it for one year, one season, evidently, and then vowed never to make it again.  Not even Google can find them.  At some point in the distant past another sticky name tag – probably also from the jail – refused to come cleanly off of this shirt and left a bit of the sticky-stuff embedded in the cloth.  I’ve never been able to get it out.  More accurately, my wife has never been able to get it off.  It is a small smear of translucence over my heart each time I wear the shirt.  But I forgot about that when I chose the shirt this morning, now that the weather is cooling down a little bit.  I forgot and once again the name tag shredded as I tried to take it off.

I got most of it, but there were a few small pieces that I told myself I would get at in my truck, rather than standing in the parking lot like a moron trying to do it.  Except I forgot.  There were two people to see at the hospital, both of whom could die at any moment.  And then there was an emergency phone call and then rush to visit with the wife of another member who had taken a sharp turn for the worse in hospice care and might be dying very soon.  And then a phone call from another member about a family member who has been fighting cancer for years but has taken a turn for the worse.

It wasn’t until hours later, after leaving the women’s residential addiction recovery home I visit every Friday that I noticed the residue on my shirt still.  A few small scraps of this morning’s name tag tenaciously plastered pitifully to my shirt.  I worked at them for a few minutes before they finally came off, in time to teach Bible study next door at the retirement home.  Before the second visit with the man dying in hospice.

The scraps came off this time.  Only I know the residue they leave behind.

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