I awoke this morning doing what I usually do: Reaching my hand out to touch my love. But her side of the bed was empty. She was already up, telling me later that she had some bad dreams that drove her to shake the sleep off and get a cup of tea before dawn.
So I lay there in the darkness, listening to the sound of rain and thinking about how empty my life would be without her. If she were not in another room, but gone. Morbid stuff that seems to have been on my mind a lot lately, ebbing with the sun but flooding back in when I think about so many who have left.
And inevitably my thoughts go to my cousin, my closest blood relative, who is lying in a hospital in Richmond, diminished to being as close to death as one can be, but being kept alive because his wife can't bear the thought of life without him. His body now has bed sores, his swallowing ability gone, his colon blocked, his breaths controlled by a ventilator, and his nourishment coming from glucose dripping into his deflated veins.
I listen to her telling me that he is a great teacher who can choose to get better. He comes from the direct line of Jesus. The doctors are wrong because he doesn't have brain cancer. His mother has invaded his body with her evil spirit and is trying to keep him sick. And she refuses to let him go because she is selfish and can't imagine life without him. If he dies, she says, then the last eight years she has cared for him will be for nothing. She tells me that she has a plan for herself if he decides to leave his body and not return.
It takes every effort that I have to not tell her that she is insane, crazy with co-dependence, and torturing this man who I grew up with, ran with, joked with and shared adventures with for so many years. I am a coward for not telling her my truth. But a voice within whispers that this isn't up to me. This is not my business or my fight. Yes, he has an advance health care directive that she is ignoring. Yes, he is in a hospital with doctors and nurses all around him. And, yes, death with come eventually when the cancer causes his brain to short circuit and his heart shuts down.
In the meantime, I look up the numbers for social services at the hospital, and the statute covering advance health care directives in Virginia. My mind seesaws between thoughts of him lying near death wasting away and minding my own business. I choose the latter because I know that once I go down the path to interfere, I will have started a shit storm that will lead to....where?
Meanwhile, another day starts for me. And another one starts for him. We are 480 miles apart, but I can see him in my mind-- not sick, frail and with sores, but barefoot and running with me. I hope that happens soon. I feel it can't happen soon enough.