A man comes in, and you can tell he must be one of the hospital do-gooders. A social worker? A chaplain? A volunteer visitor? You aren't sure. There he goes, matching the name on your chart to the name on his clipboard, and there he smiles as he sees that he's found the right room. As he pulls up a chair, you wonder why the do-gooders never wonder if they are welcome to pull up a chair. You would ask him this, but your respirator makes talking impossible.
When he starts talking, he takes you completely off guard. You expected something cheery and canned, but you get this:
"I wonder: when I first walked in the room, what were you thinking about, right at that moment? You were regretting something, weren't you. Wow, what an interesting face you had. Deathbed regrets, eh? Aren't they nasty?"
Then he gets more serious, and curious.
"I wonder what it was you were regretting. I wonder if I can guess."
He stares into your eyes, searching for clues.
"Was it about that special someone, from way back when? What was it, I wonder. Did you never ask them on a date? Did you never even talk to them? Did you keep trying and trying to take that big, brave step, but never succeed? Did you even sometimes have that perfect excuse to go for it? Did you bump into them somewhere? Did you get partnered together for something? Did you spend an entire semester sitting right beside them in school? And you still didn't ask them out? Did you even ask them anything?"
"Or was it about the next stage. Did you never pop the question? Or, did they keep popping it, but you kept saying no? Either way, did you let that special someone slip away, because they wanted to get more serious, and you thought you didn't? What an awful thing that would be to think back on. Did they eventually go and marry someone else instead? Do you still know them? Do you still bump into them, and make excuses to run away again? The worst thing is, you saw all of this coming, didn't you. You knew you should marry them. You knew you shouldn't let them get away. Goodness. Did you spend the rest of your life living a mistake?"