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Monday, May 7, 2012

Breathing Life

I climb the stairs to bed each night and wonder if this will be the night. It's not that I am anxious for this to be over.  I have prepared myself, in fact, for the long haul. Embrace it even. Philosophical. Grateful for purpose.

But I must be equally prepared for Michael's end to come swiftly and soon, instead of this continued slow death.

There are days when I look at his grey countenance, his weakness and anxiety, his halting, shuffling gait, his blank features and his sometimes complete inability to articulate a single thought, and I wonder how this poor man can possibly be long for this world after all he has suffered. Surely there is mercy, reprieve, freedom for him. His roller-coaster blood pressure, his mysterious symptoms, and the ever-present psychosis lurking darkly beneath the surface.

And then I look beyond the illness and see his otherwise strong body, his supreme athleticism still manifest in how he recovers from multiple falls every waking hour, and his often voracious appetite, the most life-affirming sign of them all. He will live for years, I tell myself with a mixture of hope and horror.

I reach my room and turn on the one-way monitor that allows me to hear every breath he takes, every move and gastric eruption, every terrible dream that elicits loud moans and garbled sounds. Most nights I sleep peacefully through all the exaggerated, amplified noises. Other nights I lie awake listening to the odd, stop-and-start breathing pattern. I will myself to keep my own breathing normal through the lulls, a lifetime hanging in his completion of every breath.

"Wilk" by Alfred Wierusz-Kowalski, 1895


  1. Such a unique set of challenges you two meet and beat on a daily basis. I admire you both! This was so well written that I envy YOU your writing skill, but then I always do.