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 am not an expert on the subject. First, I 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, I can help it. It’s like throwing an anchor to someone who’s drowning, it's wrong and useless. 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 have been good friends for years. I’m sure he’s doing his best to save me. I know that I am beyond salvation and I know he does his best for the rest of his patients too, so that removes the tag from me, of being a "special case". He is a good doctor and a very nice person. 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  goals and desires, gradually, our inclinations and beliefs would differ. Our real selves began to emerge. After that, there was a wall  between us. 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 both knew 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 it, I won't 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 often felt bad and suffered being so distant from her. Deep inside me I was expecting my wife to show me more love, but not faked love, I think anybody can detect that. Perhaps what I was getting was what I deserved. I only had two wishes. I wish she'd love me more, like she used to. And I wish I didn't know I was dying.

I knew my wife was a good person and that she had 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, and I know I was the only one to blame. 


One day I was killing time before a doctor’s appointment. As I was walking near his office, I noticed a nice little church, and I decided to have a talk with God, even though I've never been a religious man, and my recent health problems didn’t push me any closer to him. I said that I didn’t believe in miracles but, that it would be great if He performed one for me.


“So here I am, asking you for an extension, you’re my landlord and you are asking me to vacate your property but I renegade your decision, I can’t accept it. What are you going to do about it?” 


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


“You gave me life and I learned to love it, 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 out that my predicament was just a dream, or I can discover that 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. 

*****



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, and you know that he'll never say a word to anyone. This kind of friend will never laugh at you just to make you feel bad. He'll never hurt your feelings.


Daniel is that kind of friend to me. He doesn’t belong to the normal group of friends I socialize with. For some reason, he doesn’t fit in that group. Occasionally, we get together to play pool or racquetball,  we confide in each other and talk about our personal problems, even some stuff I wouldn't discuss with anybody. He knows I’m dying; he knows about my fears and desires, my thoughts of death and suicide. He knows more about me than my mother. He knew how much I was enjoying life, before the current events ravished my future. Of course, I know him well too, and I would do anything for him.

Once he was convinced how seriously I considered the possibility to commit suicide, he gave me a gun. Now, that's what I call a good friend. 

*****


The most joy I get out of life is when I’m with my son and my daughter, they are my best friends. Our relationship has been great since the first day they showed up in this world, even after they became independent and left home. Although they are in my heart at all times, I still miss them.


The best thing my wife and I ever did was having our kids, no complaints there. They were the glue that kept my wife and me 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, about the little time I had left on this earth, 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. When I had to wait in line in the bank or when I had to wait for the waiter in a restaurant. I hated when I had to wait for my turn at the pool table. When I had to wait for the movie to begin and the very worse, now that I have 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 yet. 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. Weeks seemed like days. 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. I wanted to keep enjoying my son and daughter, relive their childhood through my grandsons. If I could live another thirty years, I would do more things than what I’ve done so far. I would get rid of so many 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 a sad event, and you have to keep it to yourself. You have to keep your tears inside your "joy".


My wife had been with me during all my appointments, in that regard; she had showed me her complete support. Eric was professionally serious. 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. In fact at that moment I felt a little jealous. Because if they were a couple, they looked perfect. Both of them were facing me. My wife was wearing a beautiful smile, and 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 that 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 specifically 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 my mind quit wondering about stupid assumptions and I said, “I promise.”


“Don’t speak until I finish. Please this is important, don’t open your mouth until I’m done,” and then 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 was confused for a moment. I should have been mad, but I wasn't. I was experiencing a thousand different feelings. 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 because I was born again. No matter how I would look at it, it was a miracle, nothing else 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, my talk 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 specific moment was in that little church.  


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

*****



When I entered the church, it was deserted. We had a one-way conversation. A dialogue between two men. 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, without previous notice. He had given me another chance, and this time I wouldn’t waste a minute of it.


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

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