It's not so much the silence, as it is the imaginings that you use to fill it in. All the what ifs and wherefores that echo against the bedroom ceiling. I've always treasured these silent moments with God, but these days, I'm finding God's answers to be so unsatisfying. Why us?
I know, I'm supposed to ask, "Why NOT us?" I'm supposed to have more faith than to ask why God does things or permits things or accepts things that are so painful to the people I love. I know, I know God loves Mrs P even more than I do. God feels her pain when she suffers for her brother or husband or aunt or friends. I know all that. It's just that there are some wounds that bumper sticker theology can't bandage over.
I used to spend these evening hours fantasizing about work or running. I would imagine myself succeeding at some goal, making my family proud. I would visualize the curtain calls and the award banquets.
Nowadays, I have a checklist.
Does Mrs P know all the passwords? Does she understand our few remaining investments? Can she find all the life insurance policies? What if she had to do the taxes without me this year?
What if they overreacted to my teeth? Maybe they didn't need to take them all out. Will I ever be able to speak beautifully again? Will I ever be able to play another great Shakespearean role? Will I have to take my teeth out when I exercise at the gym?
Is Mum really comfortable on that guest bed? She has such energy. I'm sure we bore her with our long naps and afternoons with books and iced tea. Is it fair to take so much from her, no matter how lovingly she gives it?
The questions don't come in any special order because they aren't particularly rational. They just come, almost organically.
Was that a burp, or am I going to be sick?
Stomach gurgling or have I soiled the bed?
Fan blowing or ears ringing from chemo?
Jake, the golden puppy, now closer to adult than child, sighs deeply at my feet, wondering why I can't just learn to shine it on like he does. Jake takes the space he takes and lives in it contentedly. He is unhaunted by night time imagination. Jake is just Jake.
I get out of bed and make my way to the bathroom. Mix up the nasty witch's brew of warm water, salt and baking soda that is supposed to sooth the thrush that's gnawing on my tongue. Swish, spit, scrape. Swish, spit, scrape. Like gargling with Plaster of Paris. Try the hair again, still holding fast. No little pinch fulls coming out yet, not even the beard. To the toilet. What the heck? What's all over my shorts? Did I just? Yes, yes I did. Are diapers next? Wash. Change. Check the sheets. No harm done. Not yet.
It isn't torture, not really. Torture is systematic. It has a goal, a reason. This is just so random. Just a sequence of disconnection. What ties it all together? God? Cancer? Love? Money? Poor old Job didn't get his answers, why should I?
The preacher wants to know if we're angry at God. She isn't. I am. She doesn't deserve this, though maybe I do. I don't know. None of us gets what we deserve in this life, thank God. But some us us seem to get a very raw deal. Mrs P shouldn't have to bear this. Not for me. Not for anyone. I watch her pour out her life for other people and it just seems like God is piling on sometimes. Most of the time. Of course I'm mad. How could I not blame someone who hurts my wife so much?
There is a theatre festival in the part here in the Bluegrass. I was a big shot there once. Now I dream of toting my plastic Adirondack chair down to the side of the hill and watching actors soar on music and language. Some of my favorite artists in town are playing. I long to hear them under the stars. I want to join them. I want to float away on voices and color and beautiful words. There's no telling what kind of shape I'll be in by July when they open,but I am starving to see them.
I want their life in me.
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