I sit by my wife’s hospital bed, pondering the irony of the acronym “I.C.U.” In my mind, the words “I see you” float above her bed in a cartoon bubble. I imagine it’s god speaking — finally taking notice of my wife’s suffering. Realizing it’s time to call her back in from the cold. To let her become a shimmer in my children’s eyes. Or, if she gets her way, a ghost haunting their tomorrow.
Too bad I don’t believe in god.
I scribble in my journal under the fluorescent light. A stream of consciousness, expelling tiny threads of despair. Hoping for clarity, peace — all that I can no longer give my wife, who is beyond comforting.
A young nurse enters to adjust the morphine drip. She is careful not to make eye contact with me, although she does cast an empathetic glance at my dying wife.
Let her be, don’t wake her, don’t open her eyes’ sorrow — let her remain concealed from suffering’s call. Let her clutch these moments gifted by the needle in her arm, doctor’s cocktail seeping slowly into her veins. Let her have the drip falling upon drip, scaling tears to the master of her affliction.
Let her be, for it is not long now. The ocean born of this remedy sighs, floating offerings of escape. During these moments when my whispers are more dread than comfort, when she hears but pretends not, hiding behind eyelids. Searching for hallucinations of happier days.
Let her new lover, this medication’s cloud, speak to her in their secret language. Let her be overwhelmed with dissected memories and cherished tales alike, rising to the surface on the fins of this drug awash within her, bleeding tiny ripples to spread its haze. Let her hear spirit’s call. For while hope dares blossom, birthing hope — the will to stay a while longer in this place (this place called home that was never home) — hope is a false prophet.
Let her recall our waiting children and realize they are stronger than they know. Let her be in the place where it is the water’s pull that is deeper, the stars’ cries that are louder, the invitation to bathe in eternity that is more comforting than this fight long lost. Let the distance move in.
Let her stop fighting to stay. Let her become our ghost, so that I can let her go.
Cheryl Skory Suma
After a Traumatic Brain Injury several years ago, Cheryl sold the Canadian healthcare company she founded. She then returned to her first love, writing, as part of her recovery process. Cheryl’s flash fiction, creative nonfiction and poetry have appeared in Blank Spaces magazine (winner, March 2020 Flash Fiction Contest, & Silver Medal, Sept 2020), Spider Road Press (H.M Flash Fiction Contest 2020), Longridge Review (finalist & Pushcart nom, Creative Nonfiction Prize 2020), Nightingale & Sparrow (creative nonfiction), La Piccioletta Barca (poetry), Public Poetry (Enough Anthology), and Erbacce (finalist, 2019 Prize for Poetry). Cheryl has a M.H.Sc in Speech-Language Pathology and a B.Sc. in Honors Psychology. You can find her on twitter @cherylskorysuma, and on her website cherylskorysuma.com
The Ekphrastic Review
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