HER


HER

The sounds of an automatic door opening—a sudden swoosh of air—and lite pleasant conversation between two friends: that’s what caught my attention.  Those words that signified a bond of trust and love, and admiration: released from your lips to the outer world, allowing the rest of us to hear, to be a part of your moment. Your movements requiring little effort as you accompanied your friend up to the car door. 
I do not know either of your names and I never will. I am sitting here outside a building watching many people come and go, and I’m suddenly mesmerized by the woman that you accompanied to the car door.
When your friend stood alone for a moment, you disappeared briefly from my sight and I watched her get into the car, her stature, poise, and grace taking me directly into the past— for a moment— allowing me to see her as she was before.

***
You are a Professor, and it is so easy to imagine your students and their entranced interactions with you.  Most would describe you as articulate, attractive, and insightful. Your students gather around your desk, for conversation and advice after every lecture. One student–a young man—is in love.  You’re the focus, of unknown affection. Those loving fantasies, with no manifestation, created strong indelible images that remain in an older man’s life to this very day. Your brown hair flows a little past your shoulders, and it always has a classic style. The lilt of the words you speak, as they carry themselves through the air, always find their way to the souls of each devotee.
***
But you have another problem now, and you will not give up. You are on your way to the long term care facility. A converted old hotel, that is a single story, with wide hallways and drab decor. Not quite perfect for you and all the other guests who are in wheelchairs. It is sterile just like the hospital from which you just emerged. No-one, including you, knows how long your stay will be. Your reality isn’t juxtaposed with a past life, it is a divergent path away from everything you have ever wished for, or dreamed of.
The person—you—that I witnessed getting into the car, was frail, and had a urine bag hanging off of her wheelchair. You carried the bag for feces and placed both bags on your lap as you were helped into the car seat. Too weak to fasten the seat belt, your caregiver and friend who first caught my attention, secured you in place, then she got in the driver’s seat and drove you away. A lot of your hair had fallen out, and your skin was pale, blotched, and loose. I think you were clinging to one hundred pounds with desperation that only a relentless lover of life could understand.
“Do you think it’s better not to know?” I ask myself two years later.
“Yes.” I answer to myself.
I could not bear to know of a negative outcome. I am fine thinking about you almost every day, and hoping that you are recovering, dreaming, and cherishing life. The tall beautiful woman that stood with all her strength, in that moment, will be unforgettable in my mind, and in the minds of many admirers that come from a past that is gone forever.                              

© Copyright 2015  Artemis J Jones
     1st revision, 07/25/2015






Some after thoughts: when you look at people who are sick, do you just see that moment? Or do you realize that you might be witnessing life interrupted,  a person who was vibrant, before illness took over their life.
To me this is a true story, and it will never be fiction.  I was sitting on a brick wall outside a hospital in Chicago two years ago. I had been in for ten days, going in very sick and coming out feeling much better. The Hospital CTCA only treats cancer patients.
When the caregiver and her friend came out of the building, this story begins.  I have thought about the women I witnessed on that day-every day since.


Be well!
AJJ


3 comments:

Guernsey Girl said...

This story really moved me. Illness can force us back to childhood - reliant on others for our every need. But for some the strength and sensitivity will always shine through.

Artemis J Jones said...

Thank you for your comment. I am glad you read the entire piece, I am noticing some people get stuck on the second person POV and stop reading it.
I may change the opening paragraph to first person someday. I am afraid that it might change the impact towards the end, so for now I will leave it alone.

Aaron Homsher said...

An appreciation. Cancers a tuff road. I hope she made it.