When I was a little kid, I kinda had this problem
The room is sterile. In the centre of the room stands the cold steel mechanical outline of a bed, surrounded by three uncomfortable hard seats and four stark white walls. The aroma of disinfectant and bleach hangs heavy in the room, cloying the senses with the chemical smells.
You are lying in the bed, unconscious, with pads and tubes all over your pale fragile form, hooked up to various machines with beeping noises and bright colored lights flashing intermittently. I stroke your hand gently as you stir and groan, setting off yet another endless light flashing on the machine closest to your head. The tears pour down my face unchecked as melancholy memories of the two of us flood through my senses.
We were four, it had been raining and it was the first time in days we had been allowed outside. We were in the yard playing and I was running towards you trying my best to control the soccer ball I was kicking between my legs. You moved towards me, I skipped sideways and lifted my boot to kick. Suddenly I slipped and lost my balance and I ended up face planted in the sloppy dirty mud at your feet. You laughed
We were five and you got into big trouble at school for chasing that stuck up girl with the golden pigtails. You caught her and then tossed her unceremoniously into the sandpit. I laughed
We were six and we got our first bikes for Christmas off Santa Claus. We went outside to ride them along the street and proudly show them off to the neighboring kids. We both laughed.
We were seven and we were riding those bikes to school. You were just ahead of me when a car came screeching around the corner on two wheels, drove up onto the gutter and straight into you. Nobody laughed. We never laughed again.
Pain floods my senses as my mind travels through time to another place. I couldn’t look at you lying there broken on the grey cement or at the bright red liquid stain slowly spreading about your crushed body. Even now today I still can’t open the box in my mind that contains those pictures. It is still too raw, still too graphic and still too real for me to view. Your life stopped there that day as mine was just beginning.
I was eight and I was chosen for the state soccer team. You had the first of many surgeries to repair your broken body. Your pelvis was rebuilt and jaw wired, with bone taken from your hips to replace the shattered shards of cheekbones. Your broken back was set in traction and the doctors finally persuaded the family to remove what was left of your left leg.
I was nine and won “dux” of the school. That was the year when they found out the blood they had given you was contaminated and your liver began to fail. Your organs shut down and you had swelling on the brain. That year was the beginning of the psychosis and torment that dogged you forever more and that was the year you begged me to help you to die.
I sat by your bedside back then in a room not unlike the one I was now seated in. The same cold, white and sterile feeling permeated every fibre of my being then as it does now. I told you I loved you. I pleaded with you to live. I cried for you to keep going. I encouraged you to have the strength to continue. I asked you to make the best of what you had and keep living. You still begged me to help you die. I remember my anger as I told you never to speak of it again. You didn’t, those words never passed your lips again. Instead yet another light faded from your eyes.
My teen years were full of achievements while your teen years were full of hospitals, doctors and more agonizing pain. I met a pretty girl, fell in love and we got married. You met with many specialists and psychiatrists. I got promoted to manager of my division and you got another assortment of pills to keep you quiet and relatively pain free.
We had our first baby as you had your first breakdown. My little girl took her first steps and stumbled into my arms as you began new therapies on your damaged brain. Our second baby was born around the same time the doctors told you that you had a tumor. I watched him laugh and coo and run around on his stumpy legs. I watched the tears pour from your eyes and I watched you wipe them away. I watched you grimace in pain and I watched you turn away in solitude.
Your broken back had never mended and your only mode of transportation was a motorized wheelchair but even that now is castaway back deep in the dark dusty shed at home gathering cobwebs. You haven’t been out of bed for nearly a year now. The tumor was found to be inoperable, growing insidiously and evilly inside your already damaged head.
Tomorrow is the big day though. A new medical procedure is to be trialed. It requires the implanting of tiny electrodes into your brain that will send electrical impulses into the tumor. According to the new team of specialists, combined with a weekly course of intense radiotherapy it should shrink the tumor. They haven’t said too much about the side affects, although they tell me that it will be “uncomfortable” for you. I vividly remember your last course of radiotherapy, which if anything had made the tumor grow. I remember how your face was burnt with the skin peeling off in strips and I remember how the inside of your mouth and throat were raw with weeping blisters. I remember how you ended up being tube fed directly into your stomach when you could not longer swallow food or water.
Suddenly the loud incessant beeping of one of the machines pervades my senses, bringing me back to the stark reality of now. Your breathing has slowed, each breath seemingly requiring a great effort from your heaving weakened body. The machine sounds louder now as more lights flash. Medical staff come running into the room and I am pushed away to the corner shadows.
I stand stricken as I watch them work on your withered shape. For a few minutes there is frantic activity and people yelling instructions. The voices take on a panicked tone and then everything falls silent. A nurse turns to me and looks sadly into my eyes. Nothing needs to be said as she turns back and slowly pulls a sheet over your head. The machines are switched off one by one and the medical staff quietly leave the room.
I am left alone with you but you are no more. I am alone. For the first time in my life I am truly alone. I kneel down by your side and I am stone faced as I gently touch the sheet that covers you one last time. I stand up and then walk into the tiny bathroom that is attached to the hospital ward. Leaning over the bowl I try to gather my thoughts. It is hopeless. I am blank. I cannot think. I cannot feel. I am numb.
My hand mechanically reaches onto my jacket pocket and pulls out a plastic wrapper. I barely glance at the label with “Morphine” written across the front in bold black letters as I drop it in the toilet bowl. I press the button, staring into nothingness as the wrapper is flushed away through the sewage system.
I look up into the mirror. It is your face that staring back at me. I step back into the room for the final time. It seems dark and still, an emptiness within an emptiness. The cloying smells and aromas appear to have vanished as I walk slowly out of the room and head off up the corridor towards the nurses station.
Goodbye my brother. Goodbye my twin. Goodbye to half of me.
You see Bro, when I was a little kid, I kinda had this problem… I loved you too much to let you go. Now that I am older, I kinda have a problem… I love you too much to make you stay.
This story was written this morning for my Bloggers Carnivale Aftershow. It is totally fiction. The story came about when from a friend of my husbands who was asked by his dying father to shoot him. He didn’t carry out his fathers wishes and has led a tortured life since. I often pondered his situation and how it affected everyone in the family. I decided to write my entry from a totally different perspective than any of my previous Pieces. I tried to keep it short compared to my usual work.. well short enough..
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