We have this sick relationship. You know it and I know it and that is what makes it so special. We are lovers, off and on, mostly off, for the better/worse part of a decade. And you are married. And you have cancer. And you’ve knocked her up again. And you miss me, and I miss you.
Things didn’t go as you’d hoped when you found my replacement and married her in a quick and catholic way. She is a school teacher, but unfortunately, that doesn’t translate into the sweet, kind, sexy type, but the anal-retentive, strict bossy type that gets on your son’s nerves and makes him lash out. You tell me no one is able to love your son, and as a dying man, that is what pains you the most.
“How can someone love me, and not my child?”, you ask me. Although you remember that I struggled in this way as well. I had a younger, cuter version of your son to deal with, but he did get on my nerves. But I was drunk then, and am sober now. Sobriety gives me a slight confidence that I would perform better in any situation now as compared to my drinking years.
“How come no-one will take care of me, like I take care of them?”, you ask me. Your wife is at home with your new and growing brood, and you are dying of melanoma and working in a lab to cure sickle-cell disease, some 70 miles away. When will your vision, affected by your ocular tumor, be so impaired that you can no longer drive? When will they find out that you are automating your processes, so that your strained eyesight is not quite so fallible, as disabled cells fill vials and come into contact with liquid saviors?
“How come no-one will take care of me”…you ask, which is when you really tell me that you still feel unloved, after all this time on earth, by a woman.
“What would be different?”, you ask me, “if we got back together?”.
I would be worried that you would die, I think. I would be worried that I would need to be stable and able to take care of myself and children and you and I don’t know if I can. But this is the love of my life, or one of them. At different times, I would have said, “everything would be different and everything would be ok, because we would be together.”
Have I grown so calculating that your marriage, your cancer, your children…can stop me from loving you, obsessing over you, and crying over you? Or is this a new strength…If it is, does it mean the end of our fantasy of being together, the “I miss you’s” at Christmas, or at 1am, anytime, striking only every so infrequently but very hard, urgent, like tomorrow MUST be the day we see each other and make everything else that’s ever happened go away. Does it mean the end of that?
There is a well-established other dimension in which we are together, You. I don’t know if we’ll ever see it here. But don’t you feel that place exists?
“If heaven and hell decide that they both are satisfied, and illuminate the “No’s” on their vacancy signs…If there’s no one beside you, when your soul embarks…then I’ll follow you into the dark.” (Modest Mouse).
As always, to be continued.