Friday, November 21, 2014
Death wasn't what he expected. As it began to creep over him, to take over his consciousness, to shut down the systems of his body, it caught him off guard. From the outside, it had always looked like falling asleep. He knew that's what it looked like with him, too, because he couldn't keep his eyes open. His head was falling towards his chest and his limbs wouldn't move. He would try to look at the nurse. She was pretty, and when he first got to the hospital he had felt sad to recognize that she would never, ever flirt with him or find him attractive. For the past past few days she sat over him and spoon fed him watery jello that each day was more like water and less like jello. She would call his name and he would think about women calling his name and how he liked that. She would put the spoon in his mouth, leave the jello water behind. And now he couldn't swallow anymore and he could see it was causing her some amount of distress. Larry, she would say. Larry. I need you to swallow. I need you to. She would put her hand on his arm, his arm that he could feel was starting to disintegrate from the inside like a plant with rotting roots. And yet that touch was exactly like the first time a woman had touched him, startlingly the same feeling, the teenage thrill of a girl's hand on your body, of her smell as she leaned in towards you. And her words, whispered near his ear. Larry. I need you to eat. I need you. Eat. It drove to his body into something like an orgasm - a deathgasm maybe- a deep shuddering in his tissues. A new, different energy coming in to replace the lost one, the one rotted out.That new energy was building within him, clearing out the old, the worn and rotten. His lungs were choking, but with each cough he grew new lungs. With each bite he spit back up, he could feel all that was heavy and earthly discarded. He could hear the nurse letting out little sad noises - this must be a different day by now, wasn't it? Little coos, clucks, startled ohs. He wanted to tell her - sweetheart. Do not worry about me. Do not worry about the coughing and spitting up. Just put your hand on me and call me Larry again. Larry, Larry, eat, Larry. Speak his name as the old useless energy fell away and the new clean energy moved in. He thought: it is much less like dying and much more like being born.