Ledger of Suffering

Oh, Michael.  My heart broke for you yesterday.  Again.

It was bureaucracy that did it. Yep, the thing that has brought down many an empire--paperwork--landed your girl squarely on the floor bawling her eyes out. You always did make me do all this stuff:  taxes, reimbursements, bills, knock-down-drag-out-fights-with-customer-service.  Yesterday I had to pull out the massive file of medical receipts out of that piss-poor filing system of mine ("just toss it in that drawer, I'll do something with it later") and start putting them in order.

My god the horrible story they told:  January 6th a trip to the pharmacy, January 7th a trip to the pharmacy, January 8th a trip to the doctor and to the pharmacy.  Neurological tests one month, hearing tests the next because the chemo drugs were destroying your ears. ER visit after ER visit. Trips to the pharmacy March 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th. The desperate trips to Seattle, and the second opinion from Cleveland that said you should focus on finding some comfort and respite that arrived just one week after those aggressive chemo treatments weakened you beyond all help. All your treatments, and the pills for the pain, and the pills for the side effects from the pills from the pain.  And it made me think of all the costs that don't show up on the ledger.  Your lost pride.  Your lost dignity.  Your lost hope.  And I cried until I was desiccated and empty.

To be sure, the benefits side isn't written in such indelible ink.  There were the many gifts of food and wine and scotch and chocolate your friends brought for you.  And the time I bought and set up an entire Christmas tree for you while you were in chemo just because you'd mentioned in an offhand way that you'd like one.  There were the visits from your family, and the time at the cabin with Trey. There were the kindnesses of medical staff and pharmacists, all of whom worked so hard to make you well.  There were those few precious moments with every new treatment when we both allowed ourselves to think that maybe, maybe, this one would work.  But ohmygod how you suffered.  You were so sick.  And I carried you for as long as my arms held out, until finally I just fell to my knees next to your hospital bed and did all I had left:  I told you over and over that I loved you and you could go and I would be okay.

I am okay, Michael-mine, the papercuts from the medical receipts notwithstanding. (How's that for ironic, eh?) The benefits side of my ledger is pretty full.  So many good and loving people are carrying me along, you'd be amazed. They hug me, and feed me, and make the most incredible and generous offers of help, and they somehow never tire of me even though sometimes I am such a mess of a girl.  And while it's been tough, I've had many moments of real joy and even a few sustained stretches of what I'd call "happiness."  I am determined to learn from our mistakes, my love, and I am not holding back from anything for fear of making the wrong decision or messing it up.  I am doing beautifully at some wrong things and some right ones, messing up some important things and totally blowing some of the stupid details.  You wouldn't necessarily like these things--many of them entail lentils, and I know how you thought they tasted like dirt--but I think you'd be pretty impressed in a head-shaking-there-she-goes-again sort of way at my pure gusto.  I'm not living for both of us really, that isn't possible now, but I am learning from the "us" that we lost and I am living large.  I am being stronger and braver than I ever thought possible, though truth be told I still have quite a way to go.

I look at this horrible paper trail of your last months and I know that ultimately it's better that you are not in pain any more.  And yes it leaves me trembling and sobbing and shaking on the floor, but your girl manages to get herself up every single fucking time and start all over again.  I've developed enough moxie for us both, Mr. Man, and that most definitely goes in the asset column.