Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A Painful Discovery

She discovered, for the first time, what it means when someone says, "I already miss you." She never took it seriously, and scoffed at those around her who used it, who told her. "But how can you miss me, I'm still right here," she would retort brusquely; she never paid much attention to how they reacted, once she had handed down her sentence.
And now, she can understand. She can feel it, though she can't explain it. He shrinks, she can see, ever so much a day, a week, a month--and life is filled with hills and valleys: some improvement today, a dip tomorrow--but she slowly understands what it means; what it always must mean.
"I miss you," she says to herself, though she cannot bear to put it into words, afraid that they'll become too real, too true, and that she might risk hurrying things up by forming them in the air. "I already miss you, even though you're still here."
She is starting to understand--too much. She wishes she didn't. She thinks about how it'll be, without his things around. She imagines the cleaning-up process of his medicines, his food, his IV. Will they do it right away, or will they wait, not wanting to face that kind of elimination immediately? What will it be like, without him around?
She cries. She cries, knowing there is not much she can do; not knowing what else she can do; not knowing, barely hoping but secretly, deep down, wishing...maybe he will last, maybe he can get better, if she just does the right things, the right amount, the right amount of love, of medicine, of food, of water. Maybe, contrary to everything she's known and seen, maybe there are miracles. But she doesn't dare to really believe.
She melts. After he has been yelling and crying while they give him what his body needs, her knees turn to jelly, and that same weakness travels up, down, throughout her body, until she collapses, without a strong bone left anywhere inside of her. She melts and stares ahead, until her strength leaks, pouring, out of her eyes.
She is strong and in charge, taking care of his medicines, his appointments, dictating what needs to be done, what he is currently liking, what he is currently needing and life continues, day by day. Life is normal, medicines and IVs become routine; she, even, feels stable. Until another one falls, or somebody trips. They walk away unharmed, but she has collapsed into a puddle, and will not rise again for a while.
"I miss him. I miss him, he's still here, but I miss him. He could live longer, he's strong, he could gain weight back, he could do it. I miss him and I love him and I want him to be okay. Please, be okay. He's dying and I can't stop it. There's only so much I can do. Why can't I do more?"
She tries and tries and doesn't know how much of her is given over to this, to him, to fear, to sadness, to pain, to loss. She doesn't know and can't know and almost doesn't care. As long as she can do something for him, it doesn't matter what she feels. She is young, she reasons, and healthy, so it doesn't matter how much of her is being consumed.

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