I wonder if an old lion in the wild is aware of his impending death or does he just feel too tired to fight for dominance? Does he just drift off to sleep for the last time or does he feel any pangs of sadness and regret? Does he feel the futility of becoming useless?
Does he feel the pangs of hunger and fight to quell them or does he ignore them with quiet resignation as a symptom of his age? Does he feel sadness at knowing he was once king of the jungle and is now useless and cast aside, a burden for the pride to keep alive?
He who does not work, does not eat my dad used to quote from the Bible often. I think it is a paraphrase and not sure which book it is from or even if it is in the Bible. Arguing it growing up would have been pointless as he applied it literally and often.
I went without supper many times in my early years for failing to do chores.
Since I was last able to contribute in any meaningful way, I have eaten over eight hundred meals I did not earn.
What am I doing this for, I think as the nurse searches my arm unsuccessfully for a vein to start an IV. She eventually gives up and asks if she can start one in my left hand.
“Good veins there,” she says.
How many more treatments am I allowed before I am too expensive to maintain, I ask myself as I feel a tear form in my right eye. I look away from the IV.
“Yes, I’m ok,” I lied. “Just stick me and get it over with.”
I rarely start reading a new book because I am scared I will become lost in the story. Analogue to a relationship.
The most terrifying thing about depression is you never know how long it will last. It may last for the rest of my life.
I have things that need doing but the thought of doing them locks up my whole body with fear.
That wall stud that had twisted slightly inside the wall, creating a bump in the otherwise smooth wall, had always irritated me. It reeked of decay and imperfection. Twenty-three years later, it has become a comfortable anchor.
Every night before I drift off to sleep, I stare at that bump in the wall that stretches from the base to the cove. If you weren’t looking for it, you may not ever notice it. But when the lamp on the mantle is on at night, it creates a shadow that makes it invisible in the daylight.
I returned the baking pan filled with freshly-baked brownies. She had given me a tuna casserole in the same pan the night before, the day of the funeral.
I first met her twenty-two years when she raced across the street to help me up after I fell over picking up dog poop. She lived across the street from us, a young mother of two.
“Are you ok?” she asked. It turns out I wasn’t. The fall resulted in a hairline hip fracture. When I got home from the hospital, she brought over some lasagna in that pan. I returned the pan a week later with a funfetti cake for her two daughters.
That was the first time we exchanged the pan.
It was an ordinary pan; nothing special with the exception of the miles it travelled across the street. With each tragedy in my life, she would bring over a casserole or pasta dish in the pan. I would return it with a baked good.
We stayed out of each other’s business —barely spoke in two decades of being neighbors — with the exception of concern and gratitude marked by the pan.
“I’m sorry I haven’t been a better neighbor,” she said through her tear-soaked face as she accepted the brownies. But I disagreed; she had always been just the right amount of neighbor.
“You have gorgeous eyes,” she blurted out when we first met.
In an instant, she remembered she was just my nurse and was there to take my vitals. She blushed a deep red, clearly embarrassed by the thoughts in her head being expressed out loud.
She looked at the floor and fumbled with the BP cup.
I leaned in and whispered, “I think my blood pressure is going to be high and my pulse quick today.”
Spine surgery and IVIG will not solve the underlying issues of intimacy or legacy. Why bother? Issues will still be there if resolved and I’ll still be here.
What do I do afterwards? My life is in transition as I have already completed the primary mission of getting the kids through college. I am tired of the “tech” company I have built and no longer wish to continue it. Yet I have not defined a path for myself forward as everything I envisioned prior to this condition is no longer attainable without extreme accommodation by others. Most are unwilling as the supply of white middle-aged men with my skill set is plentiful. There would be no need to deal with a cripple.
So it feels like it simply does not matter if I live or die. My inputs may never exceed my outputs. Who wants to take that risk?
Part of me hopes I don’t wake up from surgery. It will save me the trouble of killing myself later on.
UPDATE: I’m doing well a few months after surgery.
The oddest thing about developing a disability is you begin to not recognize your own body. My thighs are too thin, my belly protrudes and I when I catch myself in a mirror, I’m not standing up straight, even though I feel like I am.
I can no longer pull in my gut which tells me I have to stay thin. I can no longer fake that. My arms are skinny too; so skinny I can see my veins though the IVIG nurse can’t seem to find a good one on the first try.
I sometimes stand in front of a mirror at attention. My left shoulder is lower than my right and when I try to correct that, I lose my balance.
I turn off the light and hobble over to my chair in front of the TV and cry silently over what I have lost.