persistent vegetative state

sunday 18 december 2011

For decades, December was one of my darlings. But in the December that was 1996, when a close relation pulled a stunt that ruined the yule that year, a cut was made, a clot loosened, a little clutch of cancer cells began to grow. To say exactly which disease began ailing December is impossible for me. I think, in fact, that it was more than one.

In 1997 it was worse. The disease processes had advanced. In 1998 there was much less of December than I had ever known from her before. By 1999, almost half of what had always been was gone.

Armed with caffeine, and now and then a pinch of prescription poppy, I tried, solstice after solstice, to bring what healing I could. To bring back into my darling some of the old fire, the sparkle, the song, the jollity in winter. To this degree or that, I would succeed. I was fierce that December not die. However debilitated she had become, however many tears and shadows there were now in her eyes, however many hours of grief, December must not die. She was crippled, she was often grim. Whispered incessantly about her former self, but some essence was still there. Some amount of struggling life.

And then it was 2008. If cruelty has names, then one of its names is 2008. If cataclysm has a name, then that name is 2008. December bled its brain nearly gone, clutches of malignant will became metastases that left no system untouched. Knives flashed again in the short December sun. Lips of open wounds, so many, mumbled wishes left undone.

Was I fool or optimist (and is there in point of fact a difference between the two) to go on coddling December, to believe in the face of so much rot that December would one day again be almost her former self again? If I just kept nursing the patient. If the right sort of other would appear on the scene. The other who held no knives, who carried the right medications, who could explode clutches of cells with the heat of sincerity. If I just kept on nursing, the right one would come. December would never be the same, but she would be vivacious again, she would be again some shape of treasure.

This other never arrived. So was I fool or optimist. I was an optimist, which is the same as fool, in December’s eyes. The patient is all but dead. Nothing changes that.

My nursing has fallen off since 2008, but I can’t say that I’ve finally called a halt. I sit beside December, hold her hand, festoon the place with candles, colors, ornaments. I sing to her much less than before, but still I try the singing here and there. There are moments when she opens her eyelids, sees the festooning that once made her gleam, sees me. Smiles a tired smile to me and closes up again. There are moments when her fingers move, when she makes a ghost of the old warm pressure on my hand. I sit beside my wasted darling every year since 2008, and call myself, sotto voce, still the fool.

Comatose as she is, the best part of me wants that other still to come, that healer; needs December to be at least a convincing replica of what she once was. The patient is all but dead, but still I arrive at the bedside daily with gifts in my hands, frozen roses wrapped around, a few notes, perhaps, on my lips.

There is a coma, a parody of death. A massive diminishment of life. Though a fool, I don’t lack brains. I know how small December’s chances are.

I am a fool, but not stupid. I am a nurse to the last, but not stupid. I am a wizened elf-nurse whose blood is riddled with what was once love, once cheer, once song, once an imbecile belief that the other, the doctor could still arrive.

I’ll bury my darling December when the moment comes (it will come. the patient is all but dead). Bury her and festoon her grave. I’ll do this, still in a misery of love, the way I’ve done it all: alone. And I will do it with rage, and with bitterness, every ounce of such that I can still muster at the end. I will throw handfuls of grave-dirt into ghoul-faces gloating at the cemetery gate.


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all photos, graphics, poems and text coyright 2008-2012 by anne nakis, unless otherwise stated. all rights reserved.


1 Comment

  1. braon said,

    December 18, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    thank you, Kon, for liking and following, and you for your follow as well, EP 5

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