it’s been two years. hard to believe. in honor of today and all that’s been grown, recovered, and learned, i want to post this in non-secret form, having garnered permission from young william to do so:
(originally written in 2009, not long after the accident)
i keep having flashbacks to him lying there, breathing timed breaths and then, worse, breathing his own — untimed and unsettling.
alone with him, rambling, rambling. ‘alison, alison’ all i can pick out of the muffled words hidden behind oxygen mask and clouded head.
voice hoarse, unrecognizable even as a voice.
the right leg moving up and down, knee straight knee. the left one still, numb, exactly how i don’t want it to be.
his wrists pull against the straps as his hand holds tighter onto mine.
it’s ok, i tell him, you’re strapped to the bed.
his grip lessens some, and i hope he understands.
his eyes roll back into his head and i peer through the slit of his lids. just white, just white and then, there! the bright, bright blue.
hello william, as they lessen the drugs. can you wiggle your toes for me? can you squeeze your hands for me? good, good. go back to sleep.
the food goes drip drip drip and i tell him what he’s eating.
yum yum it must be tasty, i joke. if only your stomach had a tongue.
i touch his forehead, and it’s still him, still, still.
his hair grows back and his beard grows in,
and still, he’s muscley and strong, as a marine.
but not for long, not for long. he shrink shrink shrinks until his eyes are hollow and his lungs are full.
he coughs and coughs but the tube won’t let him. the nurse comes and wipes it out.
and then, a bath. and then, perhaps, a shave! but the ventilator still goes breathe breathe breathe.
an eye on the heart-rate machine, always. keep it going keep it strong. at least you are doing this one on your own. you shudder & it shoots up, along with mine. i stare at it until it’s resting. go go go keep on pumping. if you can do this then soon, then soon, your breathing, too.
and my dad, he laughs
and my dad, he cries
and my mom, she laughs
and my mom, she cries
and then, i laughed.
and then, and then,
and then, you laughed
and all of us, together, for a long long time