Bent Words

Bent Words

February 16, 2006

Thunder rocks the windows in my living room while dulls pangs of lightening press hard against the gray clouds in the sky. The hard scrape of a snow plow passes slowly by every half hour as time were repeating itself in an unforgiving way. Cars make no noise, creeping past my view from the living room window, and the blur of the buildings before me sets the tone for this day cast solely in white.

Last night, I was just entering the hypnotic swirls of white which were laid against a dark sky when I called him. I wasn't expecting him to answer. I wasn't expecting to be barely able to recognize the signature tone of his voice. But there it was, like the blur of the snow caving toward my windshield, answering the question that still trips me up sometimes.

"Are you alive?"

I had thought of doing the Medical Story assigned to us in my Feature Writing class on CML (Chronic Myeloid Leukemia) weeks ago but I switched gears when I realized that I could not just call him. It wouldn't be right and it wouldn't be fair to John. I thought of how I would feel if he called up an ex-girlfriend; simply wondering how she was doing. It didn't seem right and it didn't seem fair. But what if she were dying?

I plowed slowly through the reasons, listening almost unwillingly to the harsh, scraping facts edging through my mind.

"I know so much about CML."

"I've always wanted to tell the story about the boy diagnosed two years ago, two days before Thanksgiving and how the world halted its rotation when the news of Cancer rang through hallways of our homes."

"It affected me, too, damn it, in such a profound way and I want to give my experience a voice."

Yet all of my reasoning wilted away when it was my turn to tell John that I had called Shane last night. I chose not to tell him.

Perhaps it was because I was not sure about my decision to do the story about CML and, more specifically, about Shane. Perhaps I was ashamed at my own curiosity in wanting to know if he was well and if he was happy. Perhaps I was scared that no one would believe me and that I just needed to know.

"Is he alive?"

He agreed, long ago, that I could still call him, no matter what, just to see how he's doing. Perhaps I should not care or perhaps I should just be better apt in explaining the reasons why I need to know. For, it is not that I long to have him wrapped within the folds of my life and it is not that I want to have Sunday brunches or drinks at the local bar -- I just want to be able to say good bye. I just want to be able to celebrate the life that he has breathed into his children, his family, his loved ones, his work and, once, into me.

To forget, to me, seems shallow.

To not tell all of this to John, is ridiculous and unforgivable.

"So you're alive?"


"And you're happy?"

"Yeah. Well, not completely happy with work, but I'm happy."

"Me, too," I said.

I'm happy because of John and because of the world he has laid out before me. His support of my academic and work related goals. His caring heart and his glorious smile. I'm happy because he holds me like I have never been held before and because I can tell him anything and everything.

But I forgot that last night.

Never again.

I cannot lose him.

Or my pride.

Written at 11:53 a.m.