I was drinking good coffee from a ceramic mug, writing pad in my lap. The children still asleep, not to wake for an hour before rising and getting ready for me to drive them to school. It was a familiar atmosphere, to time I create for myself to sit and think and write.
And it felt like a dream. This was the fantasy, the peace, the comfort, the home-ness of it all. The normalcy. It wasn’t normal.
Because normal, these nights, is lying on an uncomfortable hospital recliner. Mornings are spent in half-darkness, with not-great coffee in a foam cup, writing for a few moments before being interrupted by a nurse, another doctor, or having to go to my mother to get her to stop pedaling her leg in bed, anxiously kneading at the sheets, to encourage her to breathe, relax, and go back to sleep.
Sunday night my wife took the shift for me, affording me a night at home. And so I had a morning to myself. And it felt surreal. And wrong.
As I type, I am seated at a hospital-issue table trying to piece together thoughts as mom dozes in and out of afternoon rest. She may suddenly decide she needs to sit up and go someplace, though not being able to successfully negotiate bipedal locomotion is what got us into this place.
The wife passed off a flask as I checked in last night, I am day drinking bourbon and Cherry Coke Zero. Not my favorite cocktail but I am glad for the comfort and joy.
Mom’s frustrated. Confined to an uncomfortable bed, fretting all the tasks which are beyond her present capability, bored with the selection of room service we have already exhausted. And she cannot adequately express what she thinks, and she knows it.
The laughs are further between. There are few reasons for a smile. It gets quieter and quieter.
We await the results of a test. It’s not a pass/fail test. The days are tedious and trying. I am grateful that she has a partner who loves her and joins us and affords me the chance to slip away and take a shower and a nap and return to the room where nothing ever happens.
Tonight will again be restless. Tomorrow evening my wife will return to take a shift. Thursday morning I will rise from my own bed, put on my robe and sit before the fire with my coffee. And it will feel wrong.
The short play "Magic" is available for reading at New Play Exchange.