He can barely hear a thing I say anymore. He’s so weak, it’s almost sickening to look at him. I don’t even want to weigh him anymore, I don’t want to watch him die anymore. I’m done.
But I can’t be done. He needs me, and every day he shows it a little more. He’s like a baby with it’s mom; as long as he can touch the one he loves and needs, he’s okay. But he’s slipping further and further away from me, and one day that touch won’t be there. I’ll reach to the ends of the earth, and he won’t be there. I’ll travel from the depths of the seas to the outer reaches of space, and I won’t find him.
But his presence will still linger around. Everywhere I go, I’ll find bits and pieces of them. When the wind blows, I’ll remember how we used to walk through it together, and life was okay. And I’ll reach out for his hand when I’m scared, but it won’t be there. Empty air will fill my hands.
He’ll take down every piece of me with him.
“There has to be some way, though…” I cried, pacing back and forth across the living room floor.
“Frank, stop it. You can’t fight it, you’re only wasting energy that you need to be there for Gerard.” Ray said, his voice raised.
“We have millions of dollars! They can’t stand there and fucking tell me they can’t do anything for him!”
“They would help them if they could, Frank. They’re on our side, do you really think they would just stand there and let him die if they had a way to save him?”
“I don’t know, Ray. I don’t fucking know, none of this even seems real anymore.”
Mikey sat in the corner chair, crying helplessly and overwhelmed by the pure reality of it all.
“It IS real. You have to believe that, even if everything inside you screams not to. You’re going to drive yourself insane.”
“Maybe if I was insane, I wouldn’t have to live with this for the rest of my fucking life! Is it even worth it? Think about it; we’re going to spend every waking moment remembering him, and wishing things weren’t the way they were. We’re going to have to remind ourselves that he’s gone at the times when we need him the most. We’re going to wonder where he is, and if he’s happier. But even if he’s happier than we ever could have made him, it’s still going to hurt like hell.” I sobbed.
I’m going to hear his voice, and chase myself to the ends of the earth until I find it. If that’s not insanity, I don’t know what is.
“Frank stop, you’re just making this harder on him. Is that really what you want-“
“You think he can fucking hear this?” I cried. “He can’t hear a damn thing. Not a damn thing. And you say I’m the one that needs to accept what’s happening.”
Ray wiped the tears from his eyes and stared at me, too tired to argue any longer over something neither of us can either change or truly accept.
“I’m sorry…” I whispered, collapsing onto the couch in a pile of tears and anger.
He sat down beside me and put his arms around me.
“He’s going somewhere better than here. It’ll hurt, but think about it…” He said quietly, cradling me in his firm grasp. “Would you rather keep him here for another day like he is now, or let him go and take all this away from him?”
“I-I want him back.” I cried into his chest. “If I could have that, I’d never ask for another thing in my life, I swear…”
“You can wish all you want, but it won’t make it happen.”
My tears soaked his shirt, and I felt his fall down into my hair and run down onto my neck.
“He’ll still have a piece of all of us.” He said, looking over at Mikey - who’s wailing had decreased to a mere whimper - and then back at me. “But when you miss him, just remember that he’s up there on heaven’s stage, and he’s even better than he ever was before. He’s perfect.”
He’s perfect right here. When I look at him cuddled into me, his hand in mine… he’s as close to heaven as I’ll ever get.
The three of us sat in silence for what felt like a lifetime. Each feeling the same hurt, confusion, anger, regret, hate… but each so different. Each living in a different dimension of the same horrid reality, unable to escape.
“He’s beat the odds every other time. Why can’t he do it this time?” Mikey choked out. “Every other time we thought he wasn’t going to make it, but he pulled through. So why…”
“I’ve had that one figured out for a while.” I managed to say. “The other times, his fate was in his own hands. Right now, his fate is in the hands of someone or something bigger than all of us. That’s why he’s not pulling through.”
“Then why do you still fight it?” Ray asked.
I had to take a moment to think about that. Why DO I fight it? I’ve finally realized that we can’t keep him alive… I don’t think anybody can… but in my mind, I’m not ready to fully give in yet and do what needs to be done before he’s gone.
“I don’t know.” I said, going with the only thing I could answer truthfully.
We sat in another couple of minutes of silence before I excused myself.
“I’m gonna go see him.” I said, heading down the hall towards his room.
Ray and Mikey both nodded their heads in understanding.
I opened the door and tiptoed in, mostly out of habit. It’s not like he can hear me anyway.
“Hey, Gee.” I smiled.
I know it’s stupid, and I know he can’t hear me. But I need to talk to him. I need to feel that closeness to him. I need to tell him how I’m feeling and what’s going on, even if he doesn’t hear a word I say.
He lay in bed motionless. Lifeless.
I went over and sat down, taking his hand in mine. Immediately, a smile spread across his pale face, and he was at peace.
“I’m here, sweet heart.” I whispered. “I’m here.”
He stretched his other hand towards his sketchpad, which he knew I kept on the bed side table to his left. I grabbed it and placed it in front of him, and the pencil in his right hand. He struggled to find the paper, but managed.
For someone without sight, his orientation is excellent. He found the top left edge of the paper, and somehow beyond my understanding, wrote me a message. His writing was slow and his letters were crooked, but the fact that he had the energy and mind to do such a little thing as that, restored a bit of my hope for the day.
It hurts, Frank…
He’s in pain.
Please don’t hurt, baby. I love you.
Didn’t the doctors give us painkillers?
No, they gave us sedatives. Fuck, should we use the sedatives?
“Ray!” I yelled. “Come in here, quick!”
Ray burst through the door only seconds later.
“What’s wrong?” He panted.
I pointed to the note, figuring it said more than I could.
“What do we do?” I asked. “We have to do something quick, I don’t want…”
“I don’t want to put him on sedatives unless we have to. We’ll try ibuprofen and Tylenol first, and if that doesn’t work, we’ll have no choice.” He said as if he was a doctor himself.
“Just get him out of pain… is it safe to take both at the same time?”
“Yeah, remember when you broke your toes? We gave you two of both and you’re only a bit messed in the head.” He said with a wink.
I can’t decide whether to love you for being able to do that, or punch you because Gerard’s in pain and you’re teasing me.
“I’ll get it. You stay with him.” He said, disappearing back into the hallway.
I took the pencil and told Gerard what’s happening.
We’re gonna give you ibuprofen and Tylenol. If that doesn’t kick in pretty soon, you have to promise you’ll tell me.
And then I remembered he can’t see. He can’t hear, and he can’t see. All he has left is touch.
I took his hand back in mine and caressed it softly, hoping he understands.
Of course he understands. His brain is deteriorating by the second, yet he’s still smarter than you’ll ever be.
Ray came back in with four pills and a glass of water in his hands.
“Here. How are you gonna get them in?”
“I’ll figure it out. Stay here, though.” I said with a lot more confidence than I actually had.
“He can keep down water, right?” He asked.
“Yeah, liquids are fine.”
His hand still in mine, I raised it to his mouth, hoping he would open it.
“Frank, are you sure you know what you’re doing?”
“Don’t have a fucking clue.”
I traced his fingers along his lips, hoping… hoping…
Well, you do have another option…
“Ray, you’re going to think I’m absolutely insane.” I laughed. “Give me the pills.”
“Not if you can get these into him.” He said, dropping the little white and blue capsules into my hand.
“Keep that thought in mind.”
Let’s pray he remembers Asia.
I popped the pills onto the end of my tongue, then quickly pressed my lips to Gerards, and then my tongue into his mouth. And as much as I wanted to hold it there for a while, I pulled away, grabbed the water, and poured it into his mouth before he had a chance to close it.
“Come on, swallow…” I said to myself.
He swallowed everything within seconds.
“The fuck…” Ray laughed.
“Well at first I was going to suggest a spoon. But that wouldn’t work because he will refuse food with his dying breath. Then I remembered the only time I had ever been… well… inside his mouth.” I explained, hoping I wasn’t blushing as I spoke.
“Gross.” He chuckled, wrinkling his nose up. “But at least you got them down.”
I do what I have to.
He turned to walk out, but then stopped at the doorway for a second.
“You’re weird, but you know Gerard better than any of us.” He said.
I stared at the note before me, happy that we didn’t have to resort to sedatives this time. Just another step that he won’t have to take just yet.
As his body becomes more and more like a cage around him, it’s the least I can do to keep it as pleasant as could possibly be.