I know exactly what the Grim Reaper looks like. There is no black cloak, that's just a myth and he is a she. Anyway, she wears a white lab coat, her ample hair is always wrapped up and tied into a loose bun, and the firmness of her steady gait causes the sound of her high heels to resonate loudly along the hospital corridors, CLICK-CLICK-CLICK! I can't remember ever seeing her smile in all the years I've worked at the hospital, her entire being is serious business. As she goes from room to room on various floors, she's followed closely by a bevvy of social work interns and med students who are frantically scrawling out notes and there's always one or two co-worker underlings who are there also, assisting the best they can with the the grim reapership.
I used to avoid going into the rooms at the same time that she was in one of them because I knew what she was up to. The families and friends are usually red-eyed and inconsolable, holding onto tattered pieces of Kleenex and they are too numb to speak. Dying is the roughest on the ones who aren't dying. The ones who are actively dying knew all about it long before Ms. Grim traipsed into the room.
I ran into Ms. Grim at the grocery store one day, I almost didn't recognize her without her lab coat on and her hair cascaded down past her shoulders. She was examining cantaloupes. Even on a day off it seemed impossible for her to smile.
Anyway, as I was saying, that's who the Grim Reaper is. Now I'm in bed and my family is all here. I'm feeling pretty hazy with all the pain meds but it's all good, it could be worse and as a doctor I've seen a lot worse than what I'm going through. My wife keeps holding my hand and she's smiling bravely but my kids look like they've seen better days. God you guys, stop staring at me like that! Tell me a joke or turn on a funny show on the TV. But they are still holding out hope, at least they will until she walks in, I can hear her high heels approach closer and closer, she's headed this way. She whooshes into the room and her bun does a precarious balancing act atop her head. My family finally stops staring at me and their attention is on Ms. Grim.
"Hello, my name is Marge and I'm from discharge planning. I am here to discuss hospice options, do you have a moment?"