Once again we are in the Infusion Center. This is our third visit, and we get what I think of as one of the “executive suites”, an infusion cubicle in the outer area of the center. I don’t think that it is any bigger than any of the other infusion cubicles, but it doesn’t feel so claustrophobic, the chairs are more comfortable, and I can actually sit in front of her cubicle and not someone else’s while the nurse hooks her up.
I have the same reaction as the previous two times. Normally so strong and confident and brilliant in the face of adversity, she shrinks and shrinks as she sits in the chair near the familiar machines that go whir and beep and ping and the nurse hooks her up. She asks for a warm pack for the infusion site and a blanket because she is cold, and the nurse brings both, and I am struck by the thought that with her hair thinning and short, and wrapped up in a blanket like that she looks surprisingly like an infant and my heart breaks a little bit.
My heart, it seems, is always breaking these days.
Perhaps I should say that it chips. It isn’t a shattering or a crushing – it’s just a little pain really. Pain of the emotional and spiritual and intellectual kind, not the physical, and it isn’t overpowering. My breath doesn’t catch. My eyes don’t tear. My nose doesn’t start to run. I don’t even feel a chill. I look at her in her infusion chair under her hospital blanket surrounded by machines that go ping and whir and beep and I feel a bit of melancholy, a bit of sadness.
Things, I think, will never be as they were again.
We get out a Board Game – “Lost Cities” and play. I go down in ignominious defeat but I still enjoy the game, though at the end I decline a second because I’m feeling cranky. I slept poorly last night and that affects my appetite which in turn affects my blood sugar. The last thing I want is to be snippy or irritable while she is lying in an infusion chair having chemo, so I make a mental note to be extra careful. Then D. arrives and the pressure is off me. I can relax while they talk and they even goad me into going to get some food after awhile, which helps a lot.
Things will never be as they were again. But that’s true every day. But life can still be good. We can still enjoy one another’s company. We can still play games. We can still snuggle together under the covers with the cats on a cool evening and listen to the wind in the trees. And if there is a little more time spent on medical issues than previously, if there are more machines that go beep and ping and whir, if there are more needles, more pill bottles, and more restrictions on where we can go and what we can do, well – it doesn’t come as much of a surprise really. We all know that’s where things are headed for all of us. We even know what must inevitably follow that at some point. Fast or slow, early or late, we all have the same destination in the end.
But for now there are still many good things. There are things that heal the chips in my heart, that glue the pieces back together. Friendship. Movies. Good food. The internet.
But the most important of those things is her. Today. Here. Now. Not the her of yesterday nor the her of tomorrow. Both of those are mere abstractions – one a memory and the other a mere potential. What is important is what she is doing at the moment, what she thinks about “House of Cards”, the brightness in her voice as she thanks me for bringing her water, what she is reading, what she is planning. What is important is her breath on my cheek, her warmth against my calves, the sound of her breathing, the creak of the bed as she moves. What is important is the feeling of closeness, the sharing, the care, the friendship, and the love. Here. Now. Today. This minute. This second, which is all we really have – all anyone really has.
Take it quick! Before it’s gone!
*She recommended that I give titles to the posts since “Lump” and a number was confusing. My feeling is that it should be confusing, that confusion is an unpleasantly intimate and unwanted but inescapable part of the whole experience and that it helps contribute to the sense of vague bewilderment and discomfort that follows me through every entry. But, of course, I can refuse her nothing.