You were wiped out, ashen, hated what was on the daytime hospital t.v. But you had the energy enough to say so. The aesthete will go down last. Sat at your bedside, laughed at old laughs, running through a sampling of all we liked and hated, and made some new laughs. Lots of eye rolls. Lots of times your eyes closed and you willed them open again. Your systems uncomfortable, but you were tired and on pain medication and I was glad for the hour and a half you powered through.
"I'm not afraid of death, but I don't want to die." you confided. And repeated. I heard you, as your friends and family have heard you. We don't want you to die either, but we are a little afraid for ourselves.
Your body is fighting itself, and you're fighting its fighting. And the treatment is to fry and boil and poison your body from within to trick the nodules into dying while the rest of you around them stumbles ahead, just alive, like a concussed thief. Bones radiated until they feel like glass inside the meat of your legs, or they feel like hollow tin that ache as you move.
Punch your body to get the sick out. Didn't work? Turn slightly to one side, punch on your body from another angle with slightly adjusted knuckles and see if THAT works. Round after round.
We were mostly hard nosed. Logistics. Requests. If/when your daughter is deep in errands and tough errands, she'd better know how proud you are of her. I will remind her. You and I were not completely successful in staying practical. We broke down a couple times. Deep breaths.
Do you have hours, weeks, years left? That joke we made two and a half years ago about getting old and needing that thing is not as funny now the matter is practical. As I left I asked the nurse for the preventative just-in-case item, which she delivered. Part of another shift for her. I said: "See you later." and you smiled. Then as the door latched I heard you say: "Or goodbye."
I grabbed the latch, pushed the door open, and leaned in defiantly: "Goodbye, OR see you later." You smiled ruefully and fondly. I did, too. It's sometimes important to pretend to have control when you don't have it.
It's not fair.