Sunday, February 3, 2013

Impatient Patient





Most people would agree that committing suicide is a cowardly act, but I disagree. I believe that you need a lot of guts to do it.

You are a coward if you kill yourself to avoid confronting any kind of personal problems, but you need a lot of courage to effectively carry it out and end it all, but why would you care if they think you are a coward if you are already dead? Of course I'm not an expert on the subject. First, I would have to kill myself to be an expert, but then I wouldn’t be an expert. I’d just be dead. 

I cry quietly when I’m alone. Solitude always brings pain to my soul. It reminds me of the cruel reality. That I am dying.

If only I could die before my life ends, that would be perfect.


I don’t want anyone to notice my pain and desperation because I don’t want anybody’s compassion. When I think about my hopeless situation I get depressed and suffer, even though I understand about the futility of it. It’s like throwing an anchor to someone who’s drowning. On the other hand, why would I ask God for a miracle when I know that He has already sealed my fate.


My doctor is a friend of my wife's family. I believe my wife and him dated briefly before she married me. His name is Eric. I put my complete trust in him. We've been friends for years. I’m sure he’s doing his best to save me, even though I'm beyond salvation. I also know he does his best for the rest of his patients too, so that removes the tag from me, of being a 'special case'. I feel his compassion and his desire to lessen my suffering.


Before I found out about my illness, my wife and I shared many happy years. Then, we imperceptibly started to disagree about our  desires, inclinations and beliefs. Our real selves began to emerge. We began to spend more time apart, even if we were in the same house. Our relationship survived mostly because of our kids. But our love didn't completely disappear, we still loved each other, we just became too reluctant to show it. It just became a stupid game of, "if you don't show your love I won't show mine either."


Then, the incompatibility began to grow and pushed us further apart. I began to think, ‘what if I’ve taken the other path. What if I had said yes to my other option, to the other candidate, before we met each other.’ My wife was probably having similar thoughts. I suffered being so distant from her. Deep inside, I wanted her to show me more love. But perhaps I was only getting what I deserved.

I knew my wife was a good person with a great heart. I knew it was my fault things didn’t work out. I contributed greatly to change her personality. I extinguished her ebullient love for life with my many flaws. I know she was a better person before she met me.


One day, I was killing time before a doctor’s appointment. Near the office, I noticed a little church, and I decided to have a talk with God. Even though I've never been a religious man, my recent health decline didn't change any of that. 

A non-believer shouldn't ask for miracles, but I did anyway.

“So here I am, asking you for an extension, you’re the landlord and you're asking me to vacate your property, but I renegade your decision, what are you going to do about it?” 


Wait a minute, I began too aggressively, let’s start again. 


“I've learned to love the life you gave me, please don’t take it away just yet. I know you can come up with a trick or two. I can even suggest a few. For example, tomorrow I’ll wake up from my sleep to find that my predicament was just a dream, or they can discover the nurse made a mistake and took a medical record from another patient. Oh, it’s useless, just do whatever you like. But I wish you could change your mind. Take care now, and don’t give yourself a terminal illness.”


The last part of my monologue was a little sarcastic, but I don’t regret it. I know I’m not good enough to influence his decisions, but at the same time I don’t believe I’m bad enough to deserve this fate. The only urgency I have is for God to postpone my death for another thirty years. 

I just wish I didn't know I was dying.


*****



We all have a special friend, one we can trust with our deepest secrets. A friend that you can call to bail you out from jail after a DUI at three A.M. One you can trust with your medical history,  one that will never betray you, even if you tell him you just killed somebody. A friend that will never laugh at you just to make you feel bad. He would never hurt your feelings.


Daniel is that kind of friend. He doesn’t belong to the normal group of friends I socialize with. We confide in each other and talk about our personal problems, things I wouldn't discuss with anybody. He knows I’m dying; he knows about my fears and my thoughts of death and suicide. He knows more about me than my mother. He knows how much I was enjoying life before the current events ravished my future. Of course, I know him well, and I would do anything for him too.

Once he was convinced how serious I was about committing suicide, he gave me a gun. Now, that's what I call a good friend. 


*****



The best thing my wife and I ever did was having kids. They were the glue that kept us together. I love their inner beauty, their peaceful serenity. Nothing can match the happiness they bring to me. I can never be thankful enough for such blessings. At the same time one of the worse regrets I have is knowing that I could have been a better father. If I had more time that's the first thing I would fix.


After I received the devastating news from the doctor I began to make appointments, and get disappointments in return. After bad news, worse news. I never heard of best-case scenarios.


After a while, I lost my patience for everything. I hated when I had to wait in line for whatever reason. At the bank, restaurant, or when I had to wait for my turn at the pool table. Waiting for the movie to begin was bad, but the worst was having to wait for my death to arrive.
One time, I received a call from the dentist office, they said they needed to cancel my appointment. What the hell?  It was like postponing an execution to the electric chair because the sentenced man had suffered a minor toothache (combining barbaric middle age actions with modern human ethics.) They could only put him to death if he was completely healthy. Can you find a worse contradiction? Anyway, why would I need perfect teeth now?


There was one thing I could be thankful for, my physical condition had not suffered any changes. My body was not showing any deterioration yet. At this point only my mind had taken a beating, but I knew I looked healthy overall.


Unnoticed by my family and friends, I occupied most of my time thinking about the short time I had left. I was worried about looking at watches, clocks and calendars. About birthdays and anniversaries, about holidays and vacations. I was worried about time passing by so fast. When you don't know you're dying you don't worry about death.


It’s been a few months since I found out about my prognosis. Perhaps, because of my imminent, gloomy fate, I began to feel an immense love for my wife again. I wanted to share many more years with her, grow old with her. If I could live another thirty years I would do more things than what I’ve done so far. I would get rid of all the faults and defects that I have. I would worship my wife back again. Like when I first met her. I would make every minute of my life count. 


It was ironically sad that I had a doctor’s appointment on my birthday. When you have a death sentence you can’t celebrate your birthdays. Birthdays turn into sad events, and you have to keep it to yourself. You have to keep your tears inside your "joy".

Eric was professionally serious, but I thought I detected a restrained smile on his face. My wife grabbed a chair and put it behind the desk, next to Eric’s chair. At that moment I felt a little jealous. They looked like the perfect couple. My wife, wearing a beautiful smile said . . .  

“We have good news,” then she took a long pause, still smiling, but she seemed to be struggling to find the right words to continue. “What I'm about to say will be a complete shock, but you have to promise you’ll react in a mature way. Promise . . . ?”  


I had no idea what the good news could be. I didn’t have the slightest idea of what they could consider good news in my certain and fatalistic case. Did somebody discover a drug or vaccine to cure my disease? Were they going to confess their love for each other? But, that wouldn't be good news for me, so I discarded that horrific thought right away. Finally, my head stopped from spinning, and I quit wondering about stupid assumptions and I said, “I promise.”


“Don’t speak until I finish,” after a short pause she said, “You are healthy. You were never sick. I planned it all to avoid our marriage to end. I never stopped loving you. I did it because I was afraid of losing you,” then, with tears in her eyes she added, “I just couldn’t live without you. I knew how much you enjoyed life, so I never thought you'd commit suicide, although that was a stupid risk I was running. Now, you can do whatever you like with your life, but I wish you decide to spend it with me. Happy birthday honey, I love you.”


I should have been mad, but I wasn't. I could have had a heart attack and died right there, but instead I stood up and kissed her. I had joyful tears rolling down my cheeks. I was born again. No matter how I would look at it, it was a miracle, nothing but a miracle. How could I feel mad or upset about it, how could I feel angry or annoyed? My heart was full of joy; my soul couldn’t hold so much happiness. 


Then I remembered my visit to that little church, the talk I had with God. I knew I had to go back right away and offer him my repentance and appreciation. The only place I wanted to be at that moment was in that little church.  


My wife and Eric were baffled about my sudden desire to be somewhere else.

*****

On my way to church, I kept thinking how fortunate I was to have my life back. My future was intact after all. I never had a death sentence, and for that reason I never needed a miracle. But in this case I’ll discard all logic and rationale, the hell with it. It’s a miracle as far as I’m concerned, and I’ll never change my mind.



The church was deserted. We had a one-way conversation. One of them, a mere mortal who had received a second chance, and the other, a Supreme Being, able to grant or to deprive of anybody’s life in an instant. He had given me another chance, and this time I wouldn’t waste a minute of it.

"I know I'll never find the proper way to express my gratitude. but I promise you I'll never doubt your existence again, and I can assure you we'll be friends for a long time. I'll be thanking you every single day for the rest of my life."


When I came out of the church my soul was at peace. I was the happiest man on earth if that could be possible. 


Then I heard something that sounded like a firecracker, and then I felt a little pain on my chest. Out of the corner of my eye I saw my good friend Daniel with a gun in his hand. 

Then, before I could react I heard another shot. 

And that was the last thing I heard.






Edmundo Barraza
Visalia, Ca. Aug-7-2011