I don’t want to write about Paul whose wife went to the doctor for a headache, then had an aneurism in the doctor’s office and died two days later. I don’t want to write about their one-year-old son and how I talked to Paul at a party and all he could talk about was Nancy. How Nancy packed them all a picnic and took them to Crissy Field. And now Nancy’s dead. I don’t want to write about that.
I don’t want to contemplate how often I just want to be left alone then think of Paul, who has no choice now. He’s alone with his baby boy who will never truly know his mother, who will wonder why she went to the doctor’s office and never, ever came back. This reality kicks the shit out of me. Because there’s no reason that couldn’t be me with the relentless headache that explodes my brain. So why not calm the thoughts? Slip them into a blissed out, peaceful place. Not good, not bad, not right, not wrong. Just Alive.
For Nancy, who I never met. For her son, who I haven’t met yet. For his life. For the mystery his mother will be to him, for the ache he’ll always have that her body failed and she had to go. And for Nancy. When my husband told me that they’d taken her off life support, I felt immeasurable sorrow for her. For all she’ll miss. She won’t be there for his first day of kindergarten, his learning to spell his name, to add two plus one. Such sorrow she must feel—wherever she is.
I swear if this happened to me, I would find a way to haunt every single place my son walked. I’d haunt them in the most unusual, beautiful ways. I’d make the bully who picks on my boy break both arms in an odd running-into-the-wall accident. I’d whisper the lottery numbers into my widower’s ear. I’d help my boy hear, in the gloaming’s wind, my voice whispering, “I’m still here. I’ll always be here.” I’d walk with him every night in his dreams. We’d talk literature and love. I’d quiz him on his math facts to help him see that the subtraction of me does not mean that he’ll live an any less extraordinary life.