And those few minutes of peace where I forget about him, are gone. Because the day I make the stars brighter will be the day I can turn Gerard’s fate around. And despite how I want to be able to fully accept that, I can’t.
Part of me is stuck in the illusion that one day, I’ll wake up from this nightmare. Little by little, day by day, something else hits me in the face and becomes real. I realize that My Chem is gone for good, or that right this second, Gerard’s brain is deteriorating, and there’s nothing in my power I can do to stop it. But the one thing that still doesn’t seem real to me, is the fact that one day, he isn’t going to be here. In a split second, his soul will leave his body, and the three of us will be left to deal with it.
But then again, if this was a nightmare, I don’t think I would ever recover from the psychological damage. So either way, I’m as good as fucked.
I stuffed my journal back in the stretched-out inside pocket of my jacket and stared out into the night sky once again.
Those damn stars.
Why can’t they be brighter?
Fuck you, stars.
I went back inside, figuring I should probably check on Gerard. Hopefully he’s still asleep.
“Frank!” He yelled as soon as he saw me. “Frank, come here!”
“Shhh…” I whispered, running to his side. “What’s wrong?”
“What?” He yelled once again.
“Gerard…” I said, slightly louder than I normally would have to. “I’m here, it’s okay.”
I took his cold hand in mine and stroked it with my thumb until he calmed down.
It’s okay baby, I’m here.
“Wh-Where were you?” He asked, struggling to keep his voice low.
“I just went outside for a minute.”
“Got things to think about.” I said.
He looks so frail. So weak. It’s like all of a sudden, he’s going faster than ever. His sight is completely gone; can’t even open his eyes anymore. He can’t hear me anymore, unless I raise my voice. He hasn’t eaten in a day or so and when he does, he can barely keep it down. He’s always cold, but no matter how many blankets I wrap around him, it doesn’t seem to help. It’s from deep inside him, and doesn’t seem to be curable.
Some days I just want to kill myself. I mean, wouldn’t it be easier to take a gun to my head or a noose to my neck than to have to live with this not only for the moment, but for the rest of my fucking life. If he’s this bad right now, I don’t even want to think about tomorrow.
The rest of my life can wait.
“Come on, let’s try to get some sleep.” I said, crawling back under the covers with him.
I put my arms around him and held him close, and he burrowed his head into my chest. His sense of touch is stronger than ever, and he needs human contact more than anything else right now.
“Frank…” He mumbled.
“I’m not getting better, am I?”
Gerard, please… please don’t.
You’re gonna be okay.
You’re gonna shine so damn bright.
He said it as if he knew, but wanted to take the pain of hiding it away from me. He’s already accepted that he’s on the way down to a place where he’ll never come back up, but he doesn’t want me to hurt.
And I can’t fucking take it.
They said he’d know. They all did. I guess they were right.
The words are there. I just don’t know how to say them.
I held him closer, letting my body say what needed to be said. Soon enough, that’s all I’ll be able to do.
I’ll hold your hand until the second you’re lowered underground.
The more I thought about it, the more I concentrated on the fact that in a few months’ time, this will be but a memory, the harder I had to fight the tears back.
He’s not going to see me cry. He’s going to see me fight like he does. He’s going to see the rock that will keep him going for as long as his body will let him.
I know, I could be better. I could always be better.
I awoke the next morning to a burst of sunlight shining through the window.
“Life will seem brighter in the morning.”
I couldn’t tell just by looking at him whether Gerard was still asleep or not. He hadn’t moved since last night; his head still burrowed into my chest, his long black hair now tangled up in my fingers.
In a sense, it’s no different than before. Nobody can tell if he’s really there or not, he just… is.
“Morning, sunshine.” I smiled (as if he could see it).
“It’s nice out, isn’t it?” He said with a debilitated laugh.
Of course he’s there. He’s always there.
Don’t kid yourself, Frank.
“It’s beautiful.” I chuckled, curious as to how he knew yet knowing him well enough to not ask. “How are you feeling?”
“Like a rollercoaster.” He croaked out.
He pushed himself up so that he was leaning against the wall, staring close-eyed out the window.
But I have a feeling that he could see everything… more than I ever could.
“Yeah, like a rollercoaster. Up and down, up and down…” He explained with more energy and melodrama in his voice than I thought he could muster.
“I get it.” I said. “Feeling well enough to get up today?”
“Fuck yeah. Let’s get out of this cave.”
Closed eyes, sunken cheeks, dulling skin and all; he somehow still manages to find this place of life and energy, somewhere inside of him. I wonder how long until that disappears along with the rest.
I helped him out of bed and into the wheelchair.
“Do you trust me enough to pick out your clothes?” I laughed.
“I trust you more than I trust myself.” He replied, pointing to his eyes.
Brings me back to the alcoholism jokes. Oh, the bullshit good times.
“I’ll go get everything ready. You alright here for a few minutes?” I asked.
“I’ll survive.” He said causally, like he knew exactly how wrong he was.
Only you, Gerard. Only you.
“Mikey! Ray!” I called out.
“Living room!” Ray called back.
I ran in to find the two, both of who were watching TV. The sunlight shone through the room through the windows and sliding glass doors, and for a second or two, I almost forgot that anything had changed.
“A couple of things… am I good to give Gerard a bath in a couple of minutes?” I asked.
“Yeah, it’d be good for him.” Ray said. “What else?”
“Do you guys want to take him out with me? Later on?”
“Where are you taking him?” Mikey asked suspiciously.
“Not sure yet. Away from this place.”
Ray looked over at Mikey, who shrugged in return.
“Unless Mikey feels any differently, I think we’re fine staying-“
“He loves you.” Mikey interrupted nervously. “You’re good for him.”
“Wh-What?” I stuttered, unsure of how to process what I had just heard.
He glanced over at Ray for a second, and then back at me.
“At least that’s what he told me the other day.” He grinned. “You make him really happy, Frank. He loves you.”
“But Mikey, he knows he’s…”
“I know.” He muttered, staring down at his feet. “Just keep doing what you’re doing because whatever it is, you’re doing it right.”
I’m not sure whether I should cry because I’m happy, or cry because this is only going to make it worse for me when he’s gone.
“Thanks, Mikes.” I smiled before heading off.
I went into the bathroom next, to draw a bath for Gerard.
I love giving him baths. Not because I get to see him naked… I can’t even start to think of him in that way anymore. But because in that moment, we’re so close. It’s the same mentality as sex, but so much more… I don’t know… genuine.
As soon as I got the water to the perfect temperature, as to not burn him yet still make sure he’s warm enough, I returned to the bedroom.
“Hey Gee, I’ve got a bath running. How are you doing?”
“Cold as shit.” He shivered.
And suddenly, I felt like a selfish bastard.
“Why didn’t you call me?” I asked. “I would’ve gotten you something.”
“You were already doing shit for me, and I knew I’d survive.” He said calmly.
“Fuck it, I’ll get your clothes later.” I sighed. “The water will warm you up.”
I wheeled him into the bathroom, and then helped him take his clothes off and get into the tub. He tried; he tried so hard to do it himself. Every single time, he thinks he’ll be able to do it better than the last time, but he can’t. And every single time, I have to hold onto him and help lower him down into the water.
“How’s the water?” I asked, stumbling around as I rolled my pant legs up.
“Warm.” He said simply.
I miss the rolling metaphors. Where did they go?
I stepped into the water and perched myself on the edge of the tub.
“Here.” I said as I slid his bath cushion behind his back.
He leaned back onto it, and I couldn’t help but wish he could still lean against the bathtub without his shoulder blades stabbing him like knives.
I took the sponge in my hands and dipped it into the water, then ran it back and forth gently around his shoulders and back.
I wonder how he feels right now. I know Gerard so well; well enough to know that his pride is the one thing that stays with him, no matter what. When he was nearly dead from the drugs and alcohol, he still had his pride. So what does this say about him now? Here he is, butt ass naked, unable to wash himself on his own. Like a child.
He doesn’t say a thing, he just… submits. But if he had the strength, would he fight it? Or does he no longer see the point in trying?
And, so the day goes. He’s washed up, dressed in clean clothes, and we’re almost ready to leave this shit hole. The only thing left to do is to beg him to eat.
Here goes nothing.
“Gerard, please eat something before we leave.” I asked, cautious and unsure of how he would take it this time.
“I can’t!” He cried. “Please don’t make me, Frank… please.”
“You’ve lost 20lbs, and you were already thin. You can’t survive like this, just please-“
“Frank don’t bullshit me, you and I both know it won’t make any difference.”
For as long as I can remember, you’ve always been the one to bring my feet back to the ground. You’ve been the reality that ties me here. The one thing that assures me I’ve made it home.
And up until now, I would thank you for it.
Why do you have to be so right, every fucking time…
“It’ll just come straight up...” He argued. “I can’t do it, not again…”
“We can do it slowly. Just half a yogurt, please Gerard.”
Neither of us said anything after that, yet he still managed to fight it with everything that he could. In his mind, he knew he’d win. He always does.
Just humour me. Let me live in my little delusions.
But then, he surprised me.
“Half a yogurt. Slowly. Please, slowly.” He begged.
“We’ll take all day, if that’s what you need.” I smiled. “Thank you.”
“Damn it, I’m just trying to make this easier on you.”
I’m not going to say it. Not right now.
I got a yogurt cup out of the fridge, and a spoon from the cupboard.
“Do you want to, or should…”
“I’ll try. Save myself some degree of dignity.” He said, feeling around for the cup and spoon and then taking them in his hands.
“No, Frank… I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it in that way.”
He got a bit of yogurt on the end of the spoon and ate it, and I could almost feel his hate for it.
It took him an hour, but he finished half of it. And I am so fucking proud of him.
“How are you feeling?” I asked.
“Think you’ll be able to keep it down?”
“I think, yeah.”
Sometimes it feels like it’s just a machine. It’s no longer Gerard, it’s just this, this… thing. Keeping him here.
Heaven knows it doesn’t feel like he’s here anymore. He’s already half gone, I can feel it. He talks as if he would rather be dead, for the first time in years.
But this time, he is going to die. Whether he wants to, or not.
It gets harder every day. He’s already thrown up the yogurt… guess I was just being stupid, thinking that maybe I would be able to keep him here just a minute longer if I got him to eat.
I'd give heaven and earth to go back to hell.