Pancreases and Livers

September 28, 2010
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I crept into your bedroom from behind the door. You were asleep, or maybe your eyes were just closed, and you were so good at dying, that when you were conscience, I believed you were asleep. And I wondered how much morphine they had you on, or maybe you weren’t taking morphine, because I think only hospitals could give out morphine, or maybe it was because before you refused to take all pain medications, pain is a part of life you had said, and you wanted to be alive. But really, you were in no state to fight, it’s possible they could have drugged you anyway. So maybe, right now, you were as good as dead to me, and it doesn’t really matter if I cry, because I don’t have to be strong for someone who is too lethargic to be aware of their surroundings. I stared at your body, which had once been corpulent. I think I liked you better when you were fat. There was more to hold on to. And I stared at your face, which until last week, despite the hospital bed, had radiated life as it always had. Now it was expressionless, well not expressionless, but I do not wish to identify this expression, I don’t want to understand the pain you feel. Your chest tumultuously moved up and down, as if each breath you took bound you to the sky just a fragment more.
Voyeuristically I approached your bed; I wanted to get a better look at what might not be here later. I wondered what you would tell me if you could speak. Actually, I take that back. You would tell me to shoot you. And I would not be able to shoot you, because I want you alive, even if right now, I am being selfish because you are in more pain then me, physically and emotionally, while I only felt the latter, and not as much as you feel it. You used to be really stubborn; I bet you were getting in fist fights with the angel of death, warding him off like you warded off your illness until you were too weak to stand. By this time my face was damp and warm and I wouldn’t notice until I left the room and touched the spot to the right of my left temple. I was grateful you couldn’t see, even if I wanted you to see me, and talk to me, I was embarrassed by my cowardice. You had accepted your part of life’s bargain, and I had not. You had to grow up in your last two weeks of life, and I got to writhe as I watched you deteriorate from what you had been once, to this shriveled man, crippled in his bed.
I don’t really want this. I want: bare elbows, raw knees, and green grass- that bites the palm of my hand while you use it as a musical instrument. I want: you to tell me to find a flat rock, so you can skip it all the way across the lake and my sisters and I can admire the ripples it makes, and then tell Daniel about how you’re the best rock-skipper in the world. I want: you to tell me about the time you made the best zip-gun the Bronx had ever seen, except I never knew that story, your brother told it at your funeral. I want: you to tell me about the time your mother and the Bedouin woman were walking in Jerusalem during the time of the Ottoman Empire, and she squatted down, relieved herself, and then wiped with the end of her Jalabiya. I want to pick pears, I want you to see me grow up, I want you to read my poems and stories, which you always made fun of me for writing and not showing you, or anyone for that matter (now I show everyone, I’m never embarrassed). Two weeks from now is your birthday, and your body will be wrapped in a tallit, inside a box made entirely of wood- because you wanted a kosher coffin, underneath packed earth. I tell the story about your mother and the Bedouin woman, while holding back tears- over ice-cream cake that you would have snuck seconds of. You always snuck seconds.

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