Volunteer David Dean walks towards the last bed in the room, which keeps 32-year-old, grinning, leg-less, oxygenated Carlos comfortable. Dean’s been volunteering at Virgen Del Socorro – a resident home for special children and adults - since 2013.
As Dean comes into Carlos’ view, the patient begins to smile. Dean walks to the left side of the bed and grabs Carlos hand, while his other hand gently rubs Carlos’s head.
“I knew something was off with him the other day,” Dean said. “They have him on oxygen today.”
Carlos does technically have legs. However, his legs are shriveled up and nonfunctional, and nearly unnoticeable.
Dean pokes at Carlos, asking if he remembers when they made a trip to see Christmas lights and a band. Music perked up Carlos, who softly giggled and smiled.
“It was that day I learned that he could say something,” Dean says. “Music.”
As Dean begins to pull his hand away, Carlos tightens his grip with the look of concern, then sadness on his face.
“Once he has you,” Dean says, “he doesn’t want to let go.”
Dean uses his left hand to rip his right hand away from Carlos’ grasp. As one hand is let free, his pointer finger of the other hand gets tangled up inside his grasp once again. Dean repeats something in Spanish, then he rips his pointer finger free.
Carlos watches Dean leave, not taking his eyes off him even for a second.