Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The silence between the stars

My guess is the answer is that you have no idea what this is like. And I'm guessing without giving you the benefit of hearing the question. Why should I?

There's a person in a bed across town that I haven't spoken to today, and even though I've cared for him for months in a row, cheered for his unlikely full recovery, drunk the faith and hope Kool-aid so to speak, pragmatism gets the best of me. Tonight it's got my tongue and I don't want to speak to him.

Why should anyone out there care? This blog was never meant for mass consumption. Longtime readers know that. If you joined in fourteen weeks ago, my guess is you're just here for kicks and giggles—the dog and pony show. If you're even still around. Shit gets real and frankly readers get tired of real. This ain't no hope pony. 

As I left Anick's office this afternoon she said, "Life's not fair."

That's the best she could do. Thanks doc! It's good to have my head and expectations all shrunk down to a palatable size.

There was this philosopher, this magnetic man, who I could not stop thinking about even when I tried. I climbed mountain after mountain, and my mind always found him somewhere at the top. I signed summit logs repeatedly, and every time this guy was on my mind, wanting to burst from the end of the pen and let every other climber know, "She's hiked all this way and she's still thinking about me!" 

And now, I get people telling me about losing their son, their brother, their friend, and about the decades they had with him. What do I have? I can't answer that question. I have people pointing out things about the man who lays in that bed across town. It's still him, they say. Really? I don't know the guy they seem to recognize. I'm getting to know him, slowly, and what he can do. But I do know that I don't like telling lies, hate the whitewashing that I have to do so that I don't feel like the realist creep. 

He told me a week ago that in the future he sees himself riding his motorized chair to the train station, catching a connecting bus to the university, teaching his classes solo, riding back to the train station and coming home. I don't know how to tell him that where we are right now, even with all his progress, that's a complete impossibility. I don't know how to tell him that right now, even with all his progress, that I still don't foresee his return home in the near future. I make up pom-squad go-fight-win routines that are lackluster not just because I always hated cheer leading, but because when he comes home I'll be confined to caring for him like a child 24/7, ensuring he gets to appointments, ensuring he doesn't fall or go outside unattended, ensuring he has stimulation that keeps the new normal bearable. And ladies and gentleman, the hours and hours I give him now aren't cutting it. I'm a feature in the wallpaper.

He's retracted into this gloomy, quiet shell. The boy I knew who was always bursting with things to tell me, dying to share every thought in his head, barely responds when I am around. My enthusiasm for life no longer amuses him. He doesn't care about my poetry. He doesn't laugh at my lame jokes. He hardly looks me in the eye. Sure, he appreciates the sex. But what girl with a mind wants that to be all?

I shouldn't be angry when he brightens for others, when he starts bubbling with film criticism and philosophy with visitors who don't so much as ply him with queries. They just arrive and receive the gift I work for each day. For me, he is either murky and distant, or he cries. Where am I supposed to find the pull-string for joy? I've sort of become the worry beads. The go-to when there's anxiety, and there is always anxiety. I must be a permanent feature of the room, even if I'm only treated like decor. So why should I want to be there wringing myself out? Why should I care that I was right, there's a new blood clot? Why should I hang on to this moroseness when in my heart of hearts I don't see full recovery? 

I think that kind of faith is stupid. I think it's a self-serving concoction for people who don't have to wipe his ass, or give him showers, or dress him for the rest of his life. 

There was this philosopher boy who once told me I was good, that I was the light in the room. No one has ever said that to me before. My mother has always made sure that I and everyone who knew me was aware that I was a disappointment. Such a nightmare child. Such a rotten, lying, stealing, bound for hell kid. And this same woman has either not shared my contact info with my family, or they have it and no one calls or writes. I have one cousin who's written to me, a step-sister who called the first week to tell me that family gossip was that my husband must have had previous medical issues and that everything happens for a reason, and an adopted sister who texts me hoping to get the approval we never got from our mother, but who never says anything about the stroke. No other family contact or interest. None. 

My house is quiet and hollow. I don't get visitors except my kids friends. I don't get phone calls. Once in a while I get texts for lunch with gal pals. I get lots of mail with scriptures about how Jesus is carrying my burden, how people are praying for me. I walk alone at night.

If people see me they ask how my husband is doing. Well, he's a stroke survivor. Still.

I know you're not asking. People don't ask how I'm doing. I'm having a day. Tomorrow I will have another. The day after that I'll wake up alone again. I ignore my husband's books on the shelves. I ignore his impersonal shelves. I ignore the things he left scattered on his bedside stand. Most of all, I ignore who he used to be. Because he's not that anymore, and he won't be.

And while he's trying to figure out who he is now, I'm being swallowed by facts, and pragmatism, and the dark silence that's replaced my best friend. The darkness only recedes when I begin to disappear. Like clockwork he sends the words "between the stars" like a dog call, asking me to fill the space with strength and energy and vitality that I don't have. Between the stars there is dark matter, and every so often you find yourself pulled into the gravity of the somethings we can't see called black holes.

You're not here to find out how I'm doing. You won't call. You won't stop by my house for a visit. You're here because this distress is more entertaining than Netflix. Because it's free. Because it's not yours. Because you have no idea what it's like, and even though you don't really want to know first hand, it's cool to be abreast of the current drama.

And now that I've pissed everyone off, you know how angry and empty I feel most of the time.

1 comment:

  1. Sigh. Bonnie, I am a frequent reader, but a none-too-frequent commenter. Which I guess makes me less of a reader and more of a lurker.

    I don't understand this stroke, but I understand anger, and injustice, and having to swallow a bitter pills. Maybe not to this extent, but all pain is universal pain in microcosm, right?

    And I'm sorry for all this. Really, really sorry.

    And I'll try to lurk less and say more.