Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: HEALTH (10/13/16)
- TITLE: My Man
By Marita Thelander
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And so does the man who filled those feeders. My left my hand touches my lips, remembering the tender good-bye kiss, before it searches for the call button. I’m ready for my nighttime routine.
“Ready for bed, Miss Louise?” Chantel’s bright-white toothy smile greets me when she steps into my view.
“Uh-huh.” I nod my head and grin at the young nurse’s aide. Ready for bed…pffft. I live in this bed, Missy.
“I saw your man was here,” Chantel winked.
“Uh-huh.” I swallow the pills surrounded by applesauce. I want desperately to respond: My man. I love my man.
“He is some kind of special.”
My eyes turn towards the window where I watched him a few minutes before.
“Girl, do I smell Chinese food?”
“Uh-huh.” My smile matches hers. My favorite.
Chantel adjusted my pillows, turned my overhead light off, pausing to push my hair off my forehead. Our eyes locked. “Mm-hmm, he’s a keeper. You sleep well now, Miss Louise. Sweet dreams.”
Before I drift off to sleep, I notice my calendar on the wall. It’s October. People think I don’t remember, but I do. Maybe not the exact date or all the horrific details but I know it is approaching. For better, for worse…
A tear trickles down the side of my face that I can feel. There’s probably one dripping on the other side too, but I can’t feel it. My head hurts, or is it only a phantom pain? A memory caused pain?
My man seemed troubled tonight. We are approaching a five year anniversary. I should have died. There were times I wished I could die. Stormy seasons of anger, grief and depression attack both of us. We each battle alone, not wanting to hurt the other. After all, who knew I would be diagnosed with a brain tumor on a Friday night in the Emergency Department, sent home with pain killers and nearly die by Monday morning?
Only God knew.
I should have died, I look toward heaven. It would have been better if I had died.
I think of everything my man endured; the loss of my income, being forced to retire me from my job of thirty years, removing my name from everything we own, and the early battles with the rehab facility, eventually placing me in a nursing home. Oh, and the law suit against the hospital. We won’t even touch what a drawn-out mess that is.
I wish I was dead.
“Miss Louise? You still awake?” Chantle’s teeth glow in the darkness.
“Uh-huh,” I sigh.
“You want I should read it to you tonight?”
I hesitated but Chantel must have sensed something. I point to my night stand.
My man struggles to express his emotions. One night he left me a note, unsure if I could even read still. I can’t, really. Some words I know, like the names of the month on the calendar. Chantel found the note many months ago and asks to read it to me at random moments.
I watch her carefully unfold the paper.
“To have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part, according to God's holy ordinance; and thereto I pledge thee my faith. Forever yours, Love, Stan.”
I use my sheet to wipe my face.
“You know, Miss Louise, you are my favorite part of my job. I love seeing your smile and cheerful way and watching your man come in everyday bringing you dinner and treats. Hearing you both cheer during football games. Catching him kiss you good-bye,” she paused. “You are a blessed woman.”
“Uh-huh.” So many words in my head but they won’t come out my mouth. “Uh-huh.”
“Stan the man,” Chantel folds the paper and puts it away. “He’s some kind of special.” Her warm lips touch my forehead. “You are loved, Miss Louise, good-night.”
“Uh-huh.” My man. He’s some kind of special. I am loved.
I force myself to not dwell on the sickness and health part.
To love and to cherish.
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