What Sarah Said

January 3, 2012
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And it came to me then that every plan was a time prayer to Father Time as I leaned against the window of Columbia Presbyterian. Hot forehead against cold glass, I left imprints like memories on the panes. Though long anticipated, leukemia has a way of grabbing things and slowly squezzing the life from them; it’s odious and drawn out like the string of your favorite mozella cheese. You loved cheese sticks, anytime we went out to eat I would beg you to order something of nutrition like fruit cups and blue yogurt but you would never eat them regardless of my input. Stringy cheese it was, wrapped in golden bread. Your hair used to be golden, Sarah, gold like long spindles of thread, a gossamer hat that drapped over your beautiful bright eyes and ruddy cheeks. Lying down on sheets as white as your skin, I can only see the cheekbones of you, tiny reminders of what we can loose that stay imprinted behind my eyelids. I have to avert my eyes, and for this perhaps I have failed you. “My God, Oh My God,” words expel as I stared at my shoes in the ICU that reeks of piss and 409. And I rationed my breaths as I said to myself that I’ve already taken too much today, as each descending peak on the LCD took you a little further away from me.

I’m whispering for you to fight against them, it, whatever is inside of you. Either keep fighting or just stop, I can never tell which is better. The funny thing is they never teach you how to save a child when the monster is inside, parenting classes are taught on how to help a choking infant or how to feed her properly but never did they tell me that applying pressure when her viscera is breaking from her chest or cutting food into small pieces was the least of things you had to watch out for. Predators do not lie behind your front door; they sleep your rooms and make houses inside of my 8 year old. 8 years, can you even remember that age of folly? Will you be ready for the permutations of living that long and seeing so little? Sarah, my god, you have seen so little.

Amongst the vending machines and year-old magazines, in the place where we only come to say goodbye, I hang onto the thought of you running through the park with bright red poppies in your hair. “Mama, I love you” you’d shout as I grab your hand and spin you ‘round and ‘round like a tea-cup saucer on the carousel. It stung like a violent wind that our memories depend on a tiny camera in our minds, but I knew you were a truth that I’d rather lose than to have never lain beside at all. Perhaps it would hurt more to rip at my own flesh than to walk into the overcrowded room. White coats blend into one, like pages of paper and you are the only pencil, the only pen that can rewrite the whole script. You left lines on me that I can never eraser, lines of history that I can never alter. I would never change you. And if I only I had more time to prove it, to promise you this, than I would have.

I looked around at all the eyes on the ground as the T.V. entertained itself, and thought about red poppies and stringy cheese and how your face would kind of scrunch up when you looked at me in the morning with love unmatched by anything. The sun could not create as much light as you have, Sarah, it shines from you so brightly that even the blind can see it. That is the Sarah I wish to remember, not the one drowing in white.
But now you are one in the same and grief does not move in waves but rather it suffocates like the white, like leukemia, like your eyes when you say that you love me. And I can hardly move because there is no comfort in the waiting room, just nervous pacers braching for bad news. How can they move when I can barely keep my eyes open? I can barely keep my eyes open and the doctors are all speaking at once about having to choose one. Having to choose one? I cannot begin to fathom the choice of letting you live or letting you die. We have exhausted all of the alternatives and I’m finding myself wondering why they would want to keep you on a machine. I never understood why they would make a sepulchre in this place, Sarah, as if keeping you breathing would directly correlate with keeping you alive. It’s not easy, no one understands that but you and me. Sarah, if you leave me for God, tell him that I never wish to see His face.

The beeping is unfettered now, soaring above the sounds of my own sobs and no white coats come near me. I already know how the rest will play out, how the nurse comes round and everyone will lift their heads. But I’m thinking of what Sarah said, that “Love is watching someone die.”

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