Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Dread's Chauffeur

Chemo days ebb and flow.
The tide pulls way back the night before,
exposing elusive treasures on the ocean floor.
I call to check, to make sure Debbie takes her Ativan.
It will be easier tomorrow if she sleeps.

Getting to the car is the worst part.
I know she won’t be ready.
We trudge through wet sand.
There will be the packing of her bag,
and pouring orange juice mixed with warm tap water - cold hurts Debbie now.
A message for the kids and looking for her sweater, the black one, and her warm socks –
“Wait, I just need one more thing” as she plods back up the stairs.
This is when the wave begins to swell.
“Debbie, we really have to go now”.
I am dread’s chauffeur

The car ride is better
We talk easily about husbands and bosses,
about sixth grade teachers and kids.
Always the crest of the conversation is her family.
We laugh and remember why we are fighting so hard,
and the apprehension subsides.

On good days
Jenny will be Debbie’s nurse.
It is hit and miss with nurses.
Jenny knows about the drip, that it has to be really, really slow.
She knows about the cold spray, how Debbie tastes it as it numbs the port.
I close my eyes and take a deep breath too, but try as I might to do some of this for her,
I can’t taste a thing.
Each night I bend down to carry some of the anxiety,
to guard Debbie from the wave threatening to crash around her,
but when I look past the IV monitor into her eyes,
I see its reflection looming,
dead ahead.

Warmed blankets are our sunshine.
I gather up the shovels and pails and we head out
In search of those who were blessed enough to wander
onto our little stretch of beach.

We pray for their mothers and their children
and night school courses. We pray for a nurse’s sore feet.
The small cubicle fills with saints as we invoke their help in our crusade.
We are constructing sand castles, elaborate fortresses of faith.
We forget about the wave.
Familiar words, blessings, the rosary beads between our fingers,
these are the foundation of our structure.
The wave slaps Debbie with injected poison and goes on its way,
but the castle stands.
As the tide flows past her onto the shore,
Debbie drifts to sleep,
and I am left alone
with God.

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