Should I sit by his bed until he dies?
Today I got a call from the care center where Barry lies in bed day after day. The nurse only calls when something is wrong. I am up north staying at the little cabin that I am renting for two months this summer. I was just home for a week and Barry seemed to be stable, so I headed north once again to write. The call came as I headed into town to get a donut, another delaying tactic as I try to write. My heart stopped when I saw who the caller was. I let it go into voicemail because I really didn’t want to hear the news from a live person. So this would be the day Barry has died, I thought to myself. A beautiful late summer day with me so far away from him.
I stopped and listened to the message as tourists, mostly couples, holding hands on a romantic getaway walked around me. I looked out at the lake and listened to the nurse tell me that Barry had fallen but was not hurt in any way. He went on to say that Barry had actually gotten out of bed and tried to walk into the hallway. He grabbed the door handle, falling slowly down on his back while the door slammed shut. The sound startled the nurses who ran to his room. Barry was lying on the floor, looking confused but unhurt in any way.
The nurse said that everyone was surprised that Barry found a way to get out of bed. I was shocked that Barry, weighing just 111 pounds, had found the strength to walk on his own. He is all bones and lose skin with little effective muscle after two years in a bed. In the end, the nurse said all was fine and if I needed to talk more about it, he would be in all day.
I stood on this beautiful morning feeling sad and so confused. Was Barry looking for me? Does he wonder if I have left him for good? Does he wonder if I do not care anymore? Should I go home? Should I sit by his bed until he dies? There is no guidebook for this journey. No rules. No one to tell me what to do.
After buying a donut, I continued to avoid writing and instead hiked up to the top of a cliff overlooking Lake Superior. I decided for now, on this day anyway,that I would stay right here –no matter how hard it is to be away.