I went to see Lynn today. I knew it was going to be tough. Christmas- hell, she loved Christmas. She never had much money to buy presents but she'd find that one perfect thing to give, maybe tiny, but perfect. She loved the lights, the things she'd collected over the years to decorate with. She loved the cards and the songs and the colors and the tastes and the joy.
I remember the year her disease really started taking hold in a cruel way. She was still living in her house and a friend had brought her a tree and she got out all her decorations and then....
she couldn't figure out how to put the lights on or how to put her baubles and ornaments on. When I got to her house, she was crying. "How did I forget?" she wailed.
So I knew, between my own fragile state and the whole situation, it was going to be hard.
I went inside and she was parked in that spot all by herself in the hallway, next to the pay phone. I'd brought her some strawberry ice cream and I wheeled her outside to sit under the tree and I started feeding her the pink goop. She's sort of like a baby now - if you touch her lips, she opens her mouth. I fed her some and we sat and let the breeze blow over us and she was agitated. She kept trying to get out of the chair that she was tied to. I usually say something like, "Where are you going, girl? It's okay. Now settle down."
Today all I could do was pat her. It's not okay and I wasn't in the mood to lie about it or try to make it any better than it is.
There's a guy who works there named Lee Roy, who likes to come and talk to me and he came out to change a light bulb that blew in the rain last night. We got to talking, as usual, and then he asked me, "Did you know her before she was like this?"
That was all it took. The dam broke. I started sobbing.
"Oh yeah," I said. And then I tried to tell him what Lynn used to be like. I used words like "Hardest working woman you ever met," and "Oh, my, she loved to dance," and "She loved music so much."
"We can't understand these things," he said. "Only the man upstairs. As we get older, all will be revealed."
I listened politely while I fed my friend like a baby, one spoonful of cold, sweet, pink ice cream after another, but I was mad. Mad at God, mad at whatever evilness had caused my friend to get sick. Eventually, I said, "Yeah, well, all that works better if you believe in the man upstairs." I wouldn't normally say anything like that, but I did today. Lee Roy had tried to make me feel better and it did nothing for me. Not one damn thing. If there is a God, then what the hell is he thinking? There's so much suffering going on in this world that I can't even begin to fathom it. I can't even fathom what Lynn suffers and I'm sitting right there watching it.
He knew how I was feeling and soon took off to go do another chore and I sat with Lynn some more. "I'm sorry, baby," I said to her. "All I have in me is to sit with you some today." I held her hand while I cried, and although usually I don't even think she knows where her hand is, today she pulled my hand to her mouth and kissed it.
I broke down again and when she grew more agitated, I took her back inside to see if I could find a nurse to give her the medication to calm her down.
I kissed her to tell her good-bye when I was leaving and she kissed me back, which she hasn't done in forever, which caused me to cry even harder. The nurse, seeing my distress, asked me several times if I was all right.
I said I was, although that was a lie. She said she'd give her her meds and there was another employee there who really seems to care a lot for Lynn and he said he'd take care of her and so I left.
On my way out, I looked out for Lee Roy, hoping to see him to tell him that I appreciated the fact that he'd tried to make me feel better. His wanting to make me feel better had helped, even if his words hadn't.
But I didn't see him and there was nothing for it but to get in my car and drive away.