Tuesday, May 31, 2011

worth it.

They walk down-trodden, holding hands & passing Kleenex. They gather in small clusters in the hallway, like high school cliques of a different, isn’t-supposed-to-happen kind. They stare. And share. And stave off the sting of reality with gasp-filled laughter & light hearted recollection. Most of them do, anyway.

Some of them though, usually the older ones, sit dry faced & calm, muffling the occasional shocked sob in the sleeve of their worn canvas coats or the stained handkerchief ironed once by the limp hands they hold. And the wisdom of age, the naivety of youth, the innocence of good intended hope, usually manages to shine through.

When she came in with an ostrich-egg-sized bleed in her brain, her lovey wanted everything done. So we shoved a tube down her throat to oxygenate her dying lungs while he stood in the corner hoping those lungs would recover. And we put lines in her arms & legs & neck to give her the medicine to pump her dying heart while he sat in the rose-colored vinyl chair, hoping that heart had more beats than the day contained. The man came to take pictures of her brain, the one filled with blood, while he sat outside the curtain & hoped that it would still remember.

And finally, when the room was silent, & her medicated heart sounds were all that was beeping, he left to let her rest. Her lungs. Her brain. Her heart. Her blood.

When the sunrise bathed the city in light again, the glass-walled sterile penthouse watched the city greet the day with life. The canvas coat walked through the doorway & pulled aside the curtain to find that she hadn’t moved all night. Those lungs, the ones we were oxygenating through the tube; the ones that shrieked with joy in the frigid lake water, breathed in the fresh air misted with salt, powered the melodic hums that lulled their little ones to bed, & drove the whispers of I love you. Those lungs that overnight had turned into balloons of air, were functionally dead. The heart that drove her joy, that beat in endless synchrony with his, the heart she gave to him at the tender age of 22, had become a simple pump lifeless in its drumming. And the brain, the fragile precious brain--the real life broken jar of memories. It had spilled out the Christmas dinners, the photographs, & yellowed love letters, the wedding vows, & late night talks & camping trips; I like to think that perhaps in the midst of its running, it managed to spill a little bit of love.

He asked us to make her comfortable, the lungs & brain & heart & blood. And we did.

The nurses, swiftly & gracefully, pulled back the curtain guarding his sweet lovey. And soon enough he emerged, tear stained canvas sleeves & wrinkled handkerchief. The pink colors of the morning greeting the new life of day, stark irony as he said goodbye to the life he knew with her.

He left to make the announcement to the cliques, waiting patiently in the hallway. And like a cluster of chickens, the sighs & gasps & sobs echoed down the corridor.

She was gone, peacefully. The brain. The blood. The heart. The lungs. It was a new day, afterall. He walked out with his head hanging low & his heart dragging lower--but maybe with a skip in his step. Not because she was gone, not because the blood spilled out & the pump stopped beating--but because it was worth it. The wrinkled handkerchief was worth it. The wedding vows & trips to the lake & camping & kids & Christmas dinners. It was all worth it.

SHE was worth it.

1 comment:

Brianna said...

i sit here with a lump in my throat... you write so beautifully

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