May 14, 2010

As She Lay Dying

This is a very real conversation that happened today at work, pretty much spot on for recollection. It was between me and a guy I work with in the Great White North at Company X.

Me: Do you know Maahir?

CX: Sure I do. He works for me.

Me: I didn't know that.

CX: Yup.

Me, CX knowing what I've been working on, and having been one I've relied on for advice on how to make my fix work in the field: He just got sucked into hell with me. Tell him I'm trying, but let him know we're around circle 12, having bypassed Dante's 9th a long time ago.

CX: *laughs* It's not going away, is it?

Me: No. And I'm afraid he's going to get nailed on Monday because someone didn't feed him all the information he needed to do his portion. I'm running interference and making phone calls... I don't want him to take it personally.

CX: Bou, he knows the game. He rarely gets all the information he needs. He knows who the problem is and it's not you.

Me: Well, it does suck. Is he a good guy?

CX: *pause* His wife is dying.


CX: Yeah, there's nothing they can do. Inoperable cancer. They've done everything they can... she's not long and he's watching her die slowly and can do nothing about it.

Me: CX, he's our age...

CX: *laughing* Hey, thanks for putting me in your category!

Me: Please, we're but a half generation apart. We're the same age...

CX: Putting it that way, I feel damn good. But yes, he's "our" age.

Me: I'm sick for him... this makes me sick.

CX: So they can bring it on, Bou, he knows the real game. None of this phases him...

Me: ... he has perspective.

CX: Yes.



Me: Thanks for letting me know.

CX: Yes, he's a good guy.

And I was transported back in time, 15 years ago, I believe. Walking into the local hospital to visit a friend, the smell of disinfectant permeating the air, the hollow click of my heels on the tile floor as I made my way down the hall, looking left and then right, trying to find the correct room. My eyes fell to a room that was darkened. I barely glanced in to see the light filtering in through blinds mostly closed. The TV was on, but there was no sound. A light flicker from the TV gave the room a bit more color, but barely any... the room was shades of gray.

As I passed, I saw the man sitting by the bed, staring into space, holding a woman's hand. She was unconscious, from both drugs to keep her from pain and fear, and from the cancer that was ravaging her brain, from breast to brain, she lay dying.

I knew her husband.

I didn't have what it took to go in. A couple with children but in their early teens, he stayed hour after hour day after day, staring into the darkness, holding her hand... as she lay dying. An engineer used to fixing things, he could not fix it, he could not make it go away.

I felt dirty having stumbled upon their last hours, something that was for the two of them, instead a passing near stranger having caught a glimpse through the hallway.

We work with people day in and day out, but do we know them? Do we know what goes on at home? Do we know what steels them to make themselves awaken in the morning, put feet on ground, and endure another day?

I did not stop, obviously. Horrified but what I realized was playing in the room before me, the dance of death, a dance being danced by a couple too young.

A memory forever burned into the recesses of my brain, never shared before now.

And my heart goes to Maahir. I cannot think of many things worse...

Posted by Boudicca at May 14, 2010 05:33 PM

Damn - too many... too too many

My heart and prayers go out to him.

Posted by: Teresa at May 14, 2010 07:53 PM

Just how completely awful. They've done everything... they even went out of state for experimental treatments not allowed in their home state. Just so sad...

Posted by: bou at May 14, 2010 07:57 PM

Prayers being sent.
It is times like this that we remember what is important. And most of the things that distract us through are days are most definitely not important.

Posted by: jck at May 14, 2010 09:28 PM

Lex says it way better than I do.

There is a clearing at the end of the path. I think, maybe, it is a good place. I'm gonna check it out some day.
Nobody has died.
5 ships, multiple shore commands........nobody died. LaSalle, Harry W Hill, Pluck, Esteem, Fresno, IUWG1, NCWG1, MESG1, COMUSNAVCENT/COMFIFTHFLT Sure the greats and great great have passed on but they were over a hundred.
No cancer
No killed while driving under the influence
No murders
No just dropped dead for no particular reason
No slain by a deer that jumped through the windshield
Nobody dies.
Never visited anybody in hospital outside the loser who faked a kidney problem in Korea. oh, and dot. Spent three days there with her while Scooter was thinking of making an entrance. Finally took a C-section.
Nobody dies. Just how weird is that? Computer just shut down for no particular reason and 2 hours later when I restarted this all came back. I was going to leave it be.

I'm having the weirdest life. 49, got pretty damned close to that clearing a couple of weeks ago. Heard the barking from the clearing. Fell down the stairs. Yeah, that most definitely left a mark.
Seriously, nobody ever died. How weird is that?

Posted by: Curtis at May 15, 2010 07:27 AM

So sorry for your friend. It truly is a reminder that life is short. I just hope "I'm still running when the sand runs out." And I hope that for my kids as well...

Posted by: Lemon Stand at May 16, 2010 04:03 PM

SWMBO and I just lost a friend of long standing - we'd known this fellow 29 years, ever since we moved to Atlanta the first time, back in 1981. Pancreatic cancer carried him off at the age of 62... which seems awfully young when you're only five years younger.

His mother outlived him... and she is broken-hearted.

You gotta enjoy life while you can. Tomorrow is never guaranteed.

Posted by: Elisson at May 16, 2010 09:04 PM