Op Note XVIII
Our expectations were guarded. Two months of pain and nausea and malaise. Weight loss. A failure to thrive. Suspicious findings on CT scan. Her daughter said that ever since her husband died, she’d been writing him letters. No one knew where she kept them. One night, while her mom was writing, she brought her a cup of tea. As she placed it on the table she saw over her shoulder a snatch of what she had written: I think I am dying. My love, I will see you soon. We offered to explore her, hoping for the best. She had been suffering so and was in such great pain. Yes you may, she said. Her wan smile was both sad and unspeakably tranquil. We found everything inside. Because of the tumor there wasn’t much space. Reams of paper rolled tightly into scrolls, tucked into every last crevice. She had been efficient. It was all here in a slanting low script. References to things only they knew. Secret places. Pet names. Amethysts. Frozen piers. Chicago in the driving rain.. Lost kittens. Concert tickets. Broken down cars. Missed flights. Silly glasses. Long denied admissions. Wild hair slowly drying after a shower. Apologies. Affirmations. Whispering, this is making love. Wednesday night slow dances. Page after page of a single shared life. Such harrowing, heart-stabbing joy. Hidden in the gaps between the living and this deathly infiltration. There is a temptation to take. To save for those who remain. But we left it all where it belonged. She had already lost so much weight. I took one last look before closing. A daughter was in the waiting room. And then I went to bear witness to all that I had seen.