Re: As I Lay Dying
« Reply #10 on: February 01, 2018, 06:23:11 AM »
“Everything is too broad! Ask questions. That's a bit easier.”
“Uh. Okay. Um.” she laughed again. “Well, I don't wanna ask about your leg, 'cause maybe it was traumatic or something. I don't wanna ask about your...current situation, you know, dying and everything, 'cause that might be depressing or something. I don't want to ask you about past relationships, 'cause who knows where I'd hit a raw nerve. And...I don't wanna ask about your kids, 'cause like, same reason I guess. But I guess I wanna know about all of that...but I'm fine just talking about nothing too. As long as I'm talking with you!”
“My leg. Yeah. That was a bitch. I wanted to keep it of course but when you have to lose your life or your leg, the leg goes. Took awhile to get used to. I got a prosthetic and hated it. Then I got a wheelchair and advanced to a motorized scooter.”
She was starting to giggle uncontrollably.
“Sorry!” she kept laughing. “I'm sorry.”
She tried to straighten her face and suppress the hysterics, but was losing out.
“So, where's your scooter now?” she hadn't fully bridled her out-of-control laughter.
“What the fuck is so funny!” I said, starting to feel like laughing myself, for no reason in particular other than contagion.
“Just, I was just picturing you leveling up your character when you're like, 'I advanced to a scooter!'” she giggled before bursting into all out hysterical laughter once again.
“My scooter is at my house,” I said flatly, once again wondering if this woman might be crazy but I followed up with an idiot grin in spite of it.
“So, when do you get to go home?” she asked.
“Well, the thing is, my kidney function is so fucking low that they aren't sure I'll ever leave. It's lookin' like I'm about to die here. Could be in a month or a week, no one knows.”
“What about a transplant?” she asked.
“It's a two to six year wait list. I'm on the list, but most likely won't last long enough to get one.”
“Where's your chart?”
“Are you a doctor now?”
“Maybe!” she shot back.
She looked around and located the clipboard with my name on it. She didn't even ask me, just started looking through my chart, flipping the pages. I realized I didn't even mind. She glanced up at me with a fiercely determined look on her face, then back down at the paperwork. She set the chart back.
“So I'd love to hear anything else about your life that you'd care to share!”
“Ask me a question.”
“Did you ever end up getting married?”
“Yeah. But she was a cheating bitch so that didn't last too long.”
She put her hand gently over mine, causing my arm to suddenly feel tingly. A vivacious stream of warmth was spreading like hot syrup throughout my body.
“You don't have to say that,” she said softly. “I know you feel. So she hurt you. I'm really sorry to hear that. It sounds like you didn't get the life you wanted, either.”
“And what did you want that you didn't get?”
She looked me in the eye for a moment of silence, before answering.
She took a deep breath and let it out slowly. Her voice was full of emotion as she unhurriedly conveyed her heart to me.
“Well, it sure wasn't 'cause you checked off my boxes. I mean, most of everything about you was a big red disqualifying X in what I'd have wanted in a man. But it was you anyway. What words could ever recreate the magic that made my heart yours? I fell in love with you and I never stopped loving you or missing you. The time we had together, just talking and laughing...it was the happiest I ever was in my life. And then you broke my heart. It just about destroyed me. I tried everything I could to make it stop, and every once in awhile I believed I was moving past it, but it always came back. On my darkest days, it was your name my heart would cry. There were a lot of times I hated you 'cause it hurt so bad that you didn't care. And that you threw me away like I was nothing and never looked back. After everything you said to me. That I believed. But...I don't blame you. Not for what happened and not for what didn't happen. I acknowledge that it was my fault. I'm the one that...I had to live with the decisions I made. But it was hell. Even when I looked okay, which was most of the time, I was dying inside. It was the memories of you that kept me going, and the thought that I'd see you again before I died.”
“I didn't not care,” I said. “There was just nothing that could be done.”
“Did you ever...think about me? I mean, I know there were a lot of girls before me, and probably a lot after me.”
I nodded. “I tried not to. But I thought about you.”
“Was I...was it...the things you told me...” she seemed perturbed as she struggled to say what she was trying to say. She stopped and went quiet for awhile.
“Do you ever think about the power of words?” she queried. “That when I think about it, I fell in love with your words. That it was your words that held me prisoner for a lifetime? I'm sure your sexy voice and face made it all the worse, though!”
“Words are just air. People say shit all the time.”
“So if I asked you to think back over your life and remember words that people said to you that were either beautiful words or harsh, unkind words, you'd come up completely empty-handed?”
I thought about this for a moment.
Images of arguments from half a lifetime ago flashed through my mind, where hastily spewed nasty things had been said. Images of being held postcoitally amid saccharine platitudes were mixed with these. Images from childhood, from school, from work all took their turn, yielding memories in both categories.
“But you choose to let them affect you or not. You don't have to define yourself by other people's opinions,” I rebutted.
“I know. Millions of times I asked myself why what you thought or didn't think of me made any difference. Willing it away didn't really help. I wanted you to be happy but I also, probably selfishly, wanted you to keep on wanting and loving me like you once did. Were you...happy?”
“Not really. Life sucks. Work sucks. People are shitty.”
She looked crestfallen after she took that in.
“I'm really sorry,” she said sadly. “There must have been good things, though!”
“My kids. My grandkids. Though I never got to see them as much as I wanted.”
“Have they been here to visit you? Since the operation?”
“My son's wife is bringing the kids tomorrow.”
“How old are they?”
“I dunno, like high school and college age.”
“How many? Girls or boys?”
“One of each for them. My daughter has two boys and a girl.”
“I have pictures of my grandkids on my phone if you wanna see,” she told me.
“Sure. Let's see if they turned out as cute as you!”
She dug through her purse and pulled out her phone and showed me some pictures of cute little kids while telling me their names and ages and sharing little stories about them. A lot of the details didn't really register, but I was mesmerized by her animated face and the joy on her face as she talked about her family.
Eventually she showed me some pictures of dogs. There was a picture of a rust-colored hound-looking dog laying on a leather couch.
A picture of a little fuzzy brown mutt came up. “Zane.”
Then there was a picture of the red dog with a Lassie-looking dog running through shallow water at a lake shore. “That's Diaz. With Vincent.”
“How the fuck many dogs do you have?!”
She laughed. “Only three!”
“Interesting names,” I stated.
“Uh huh,” she smiled at me and then returned her hand to softly clasp my left hand.
“I have a few pictures,” I said as I reached for my phone. I growled in pain as the reach sent stabs of torture though my left side.
“Let me grab that,” she volunteered.
She let go of my hand, and it suddenly felt cold and empty. She walked around to the other side of the bed and picked up my phone carefully and passed it to me.
She sat beside me on the other side of the bed.
I flipped through my picture gallery until I found what I was looking for.
She looked at a nice-looking teenage boy in a Steelers winter hat.
“That's Colton, my daughter's son.”
I swiped to another picture.
“There's Brandon, Colton's little brother.”
I changed the picture.
“There's Cara, their sister.”
“The boys remind me so much of how you used to look!”
“What are you saying! You said I was still sexy!” I interjected.
She turned to face me with a tender smile.
“You are. You absolutely are.”
She set her phone on the stand. Then she took mine and put it there too.
She started running her hand up my arm, over my shoulder, up my neck.
I started feeling the rush again.
She cuddled up next to me with her arm around me. Her body next to me was having all kinds of effects on my body, including some disturbance of the catheter line.
She lay next to me quietly. I put my arm around her.
Why does it feel so natural to have someone I havn't seen in half a lifetime laying in my bed with me? I realized I could really go for a shower, only I had to wait until a nurse could take me. My bedmate didn't seem to mind. I'd more or less given up on life and had been just waiting to sink into oblivion any day now, but now I suddenly had motivation to live. I didn't feel like I was dying anymore. I thought about making my way on my own to a shower. I could use my arms and leg to get myself into a wheelchair and wheel myself to a shower room. I'd have to be careful about getting the bandaging around the incision wet. The thought of doing anything besides waiting around for death had seemed impossible this morning.
I started wondering how long she would be around. Images of her in a white dress started playing in my mind. I got around to imagining that white dress coming off. I glanced down at her as she lay next to me with her arm around me, looking entirely content and at peace. I wanted to kiss the top of her head, but I couldn't quite reach, so I ran my hand over her hair instead.
She made a happy “Mmmm” sound, and nestled her head in closer to me.
Another round of pain shot in every direction from my left side and I jerked involuntarily.
“What is it?”
I gestured toward the incision.
“Don't they have you on any pain meds?”
I shrugged. “I think so...they said to press this button to up the dose.” I showed her a little device attached to cords within my reach. “But I've damn near broke the thing off and it doesn't seem to do shit.”
She got up and went over to my chart again.
“It says you're on hydromorphone.” She set the chart down and walked over to the machine attached to the button I'd indicated.
“It's not empty,” she observed. She looked down along the tube. “Ahh, I see. There's a kink in the tube. Do you...want me to unkink it for you?”
“Yes, ma'am,” I said.
She straightened the tubing.
“You'll probably feel more nauseous but less painful after a little bit,” she said. “You might even get a massive dose if you've been pressing the button a ton. Do you want me to get a nurse?”
“No! I like the nurse I have now better!”
She giggled. I patted the bed next to me and gestured an invitation with my head.
She returned to the spot beside me that was still a bit warm from her body heat, and got comfortable next to me with her head against my shoulder again.
How long we lay like that, I wasn't sure, but it was amazing. She'd been silent for awhile and I thought she may have fallen asleep.
I heard footsteps approaching my room door.
I started nudging her shoulder with my hand. “Someone's coming! You probably don't want them to find you here!”
She opened her eyes. She got up quickly and hid behind the curtain that encloses the bed, which was currently all pushed out of the way and over toward the wall.
“I can see your feet!” I whispered loudly.