Vital Signs

August 9, 2013
By Caitlin0715 SILVER, Seattle, Washington
Caitlin0715 SILVER, Seattle, Washington
7 articles 0 photos 0 comments

They said the first thing to go would be my mind. Shortly followed by the decay of my vital organs, just as a side affect of being old. I was okay with that. But my mind. It was one thing I refused to loose. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a choice, and the more of my body the disease consumed, the less aware of it I was.

There’s a boy standing at my bedside. He says he’s my son, but he looks like a stranger. He takes my wrinkled, veiny hand in his clean canvas one and kisses it. I am aware that he has blue eyes. They look familiar and I do not remember that my own eyes are blue as well.

The first girl I loved told me my eyes were like the color of a pool she once swam in. In third grade, that was practically a marriage proposal. It was the first time a girl had complimented me. I went home and had my mom help me make cookies to give her. They were molasses, and came out burnt and overly- crisped, but I gave them to her and she kissed my cheek. I felt like nothing in the world could ever go wrong again. I do not remember this.

The young man is gone. A slight breeze blows through the room, and the eggshell curtains billow with air. My bed is too far away to feel this. I can’t remember the last time I got to go outside. I look down at myself. I do not remember that these legs carried me to the top of many mountains, down hundreds of ski runs, swam through lakes and streams, sat in kayaks and peddled on bikes. I do not remember the farm I grew up on, or the races I would have with my two brothers. I do not remember holding my children, reading to them or taking them to the park. I do not remember birthday parties, dance recitals, science fairs or graduations. I do not remember dates with my wife or going to see movies or what we did for our 30th wedding anniversary. I do not remember these things because I cannot remember that I have forgotten them.

When my kids were little, and my wife was out, I used to turn up the music and pick Jesse and Rachel up, dancing and swinging them around the living room to the Beatles, the BeeGees and Queen. I used to do this for hours, until they would fall asleep in my arms. I would put them to bed and watch them slumber, breathe in their scent and admire their tiny chests rising and falling. I do not remember this.

A young nurse comes into my room. She has creamy red hair tied into a bun that started out tight, but has become loose with the stress and heat of the day. She turns on a fan in the corner of my room. It’s closer than the window, but the air still doesn’t reach me. As per routine, she asks how I’m doing and sets down a tray of food, even though she knows it won’t be eaten. She asks if it was nice to see my son. I tell her he didn’t come to visit, but that I wish he would. She checks my vitals and tells me that she’ll come back in half an hour to take me for a walk. I think that would be nice.

When I turned 14, my father took me to the local outdoors shop and bought me real hiking boots, my own backpack, sleeping bag, and sleeping pad. He danced around the store with excitement, his eyes growing wide as he talked about all the adventures and trips we would go on. The following summer, we went on one trip. I wanted to go on more, but my father always had some excuse. My new and barely used gear moved from the front hall, to his workshop and then pushed to the back of the storage room. That December, my dad slipped and fell on some black ice, fracturing his skill and injuring his spine. He didn’t live to see the new year. This I remember, but wish I didn’t.

The nurse is back. She helps me into my wheelchair and rolls me out of the room. We go out into the garden and she pushes me slowly along the paved path. I admire the spring flowers and blooming trees and the warmth of the sun. She parks me under a shady maple and tells me she’ll be back in a minute. I close my eyes, my chest rising and falling to the rhythm of the universe.

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