Put me inside flesh that is dying
A ghost that wanders without rest
Buried by desires and weakness
Sometimes I do. Sometimes I don't. And there are sometimes that I just refuse either way. One of the worst things I have ever felt was feeling her die. Feeling the grip of her hand tighten and then relax to nothing...letting go.
Have you ever watched anyone die? And not from a car wreck or being shut off of life support...but watching them fade away. She had a smile that made the world right again when all I ever thought was wrong. She had that comfort that made your world the safest place to be. Even in fading, she still had those qualities.
And more so than watching someone die, what is it like to feel yourself fade? Let me inflict your body with disease. Something that will change the color of your skin from whatever it is now to a pale yellow-ish tint. Something that will make your hair fall out in clumps. Something that will make you throw up nearly twice a day or more. Something that makes you so weak you can't even walk. Something that makes you unable to dress yourself or even control your bladder. And then I want you to smile through it all. Can you?
She did. Not always but she did. I have pictures to prove it. No, that's make up. No, that's a wig. But yeah, that's her smiling. Looking as though she is enjoying herself and that glass of wine. And for all intents and purposes, she probably was.
Had I known then what was to happen, there'd be a ton more pictures that we have. It was November or so when she lost her hair. She hated wearing the wig. We have a few shots of her with it, but she never wanted her picture taken without it and since she didn't wear it much, we don't have many pictures of her after November. Then, when she was in the hospital, forget it. Seems like the only time people take pictures in a hospital are for new born babies and stuff. Never because someone is slowly slipping from this world. I wouldn't have minded, but she did. And it was just never thought of to do.
She wore these hat-like things on her head. Something her sister made for her. Oh and what a sister she was. There at the hospital more than any of us, which probably says a lot I suppose.
I was 18. About to hit the home stretch of my senior year in high school. Just started a relationship with a girl from school. We didn't go to movies or games and things like that. Our dates took place at a hospital. Again, I didn't mind. But she did. She wanted us not to come there and be with her, but to go out and do things that couples do on dates.
Christmas came and went for us. Had it right there in the hospital room. It was just after the 25th that she lost her ability to speak. Actually, it came on pretty fast. One day fine, and the next in the ICU, connected to a machine that made her breath, eyes glazed over, just looking up at the ceiling. I don't know if it was her control or not, but I could get a little squeeze out of her hand whenever I talked to her. She never looked at me though. To get that, I just had to stand over her and look at her rather than get her to look at me and even then you knew it felt like she was looking right through you.
The smile was gone. It was replaced by a large, clear, plastic tube and some crust around the lips that had formed from the drool that had dried around it. Her skin was more yellow than white, like dried piss on a white tile floor. And it was, really. Her kidneys had failed by now, no longer able to function. Another part of her body taken over by a machine.
It wasn't all machine though. It was her. She still lived and lived on will alone. It was her fighting to stay alive, even though she had every reason to give up that fight. Perhaps then it wasn't her looking through me, but concentration on keeping focused...keeping herself alive. I don't know. But I'll just live believing that. True or not.
Her eyes opened wide. Her grip tightened. Then her body relaxed. Hopefully one of the last things she heard and actually processed in her head were the words, "I love you Mom."