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The Third Floor

By Jeffrey D. Schelldorf
(A patient at Columbia, MO VAMC)

All generations unfold,
And time seems to stand still,
As it waits for another fallen soldier
        Up here on the third floor.

For some life just seems to fade away slowly,
While others just slip away in a moment.
Then there are those who are fortunate to go home,
And those who have made this their home
        Up here on the third floor.

    And yet!

We also see comrades,
Even if their paths cross for the first time,
Prove that the bond which only soldiers share,
Can still hold strong
        Up here on the third floor.

Then when we see in amazement,
An aged unfortunate soldier,
Appreciate his life,
Then feel bad for those who are less fortunate.
We cannot compare ourselves,
For the true meaning of a soldier's heart
Is deeply shown
        Up here on the third floor.

When we see these fighting soldiers
Set aside their dignity,
Accept the help they need,
Without the feeling of defeat,
They define the true meaning of a soldier's inner strength
        Up here on the third floor.

When an almost helpless soldier who just seems to shine
Throws a glowing smile your way,
It is meant for you to catch.
If you catch it with your heart,
You are beyond blessed,
For this is a true gesture of one's pride given to you,
From someone so very special
        Up here on the third floor.

Even now when age and health issues are catching
Up to these brave soldiers,
And they share unbelievable stories with us about
    past experiences,
We cannot help but have deep emotions of respect.
For they show us the true meaning of courage
Then and now.
        Up here on the third floor.

We see fully aware but cannot move,
We see some staring into space,
We see some who are just ready to go.
We see some who are just function with routine,
And those who really don't know what's next.
We see those who are terminal, but enjoy each day they have.
We see those who just deal with the situation,
We see those who display how proud they are of themselves,
We see those who seem happy all the time
And those who, plain and simple, love seeing others have fun.
We see all sorts,
So we shall continue to serve them,
As we are honored and proud
To be part of their lives
        Up here on the third floor.

When we are with these wounded soldiers day after day,
And share kind caring moments together,
We develop so many small relationships,
So many different relationships,
For these times are treasured.
We hope and look forward to having another moment with them
        Up here on the third floor.

Sometimes we will see soldiers that are very concerned
About themselves while hanging onto the new day they have.
They really do not want to be alone,
So they reach out to others.
If we are paying attention,
This should remind us how being close to the ones we love
Is so very important,
For no one really wants to be alone,
Not even
        Up here on the third floor.

Once in awhile we have the privilege of meeting that
Remarkable soldier,
Who through his cheerful good nature and
Endless unconditional thoughtfulness toward others,
Seems to capture our attention and
Throughout the entire hospital,
Brings contentment and joy to everyone he encounters
        Up and beyond the third floor.

When we see those who pass on,
Our hearts glorify them for their bravery and commitment,
They gave for our freedom.
So with faith and hope we pray that they, themselves,
Find freedom in heaven, after leaving
        The third floor. Amen.

Reviewed/Updated April 8, 2008