Sunday, February 3, 2013

Impatient Patient



Most people would agree that committing suicide is a cowardly act, but I disagree. I believe that you really 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 my cruel reality . . .  I am dying.


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. I understand about the futility of it. It’s like throwing an anchor to someone who’s drowning. And 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 think 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. 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, especially on her part.


The incompatibility in so many areas was growing and pushing us 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. Due to the situation, 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 is what I deserved. Above all, I wish she'd love me more now, 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. I am not a religious man. I have never been a man of God 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 it was just a dream, or learn that the nurse made a mistake and took a medical record from another patient. Oh, it’s useless, just do whatever you like. I know you will anyway, 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 think 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. One you can call at three in the morning to bail you out from jail after a DUI. 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, about my thoughts of death and suicide. He knows more about me than my own 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 consider the possibility to commit suicide, he gave me a gun. 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. Even though they are in my heart at all times, I still miss them a lot.


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. I can live three lifetimes in a row and nothing could 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 not having been a better father. I know I could have been better.


After I received the devastating news from the doctor, about the little time I had left on this earth, I started to get treatments, and mistreatments. I began to make appointments and get disappointments in return. After bad news, worse news, I never heard of best-case scenarios.


I've 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 worst . . . now that I have to wait for my death to arrive. But even my impatience, I kept to myself.


One time I got 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 or calendars, about birthdays and anniversaries, about holidays and vacations. I was worried about time passing by so fast. 


It’s been a few months since I learned about my prognosis. Perhaps, because of my imminent, gloomy fate, I began to feel enormous 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 anyway. 


My wife had been with me during all my appointments, in that regard, she had showed me complete support. Eric was professionally serious. I thought I detected a contained 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 she 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 we’re about to say it’s going to be a complete shock for you, 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 possibly consider good news in my certain and fatalistic case . . .  Did somebody discover a drug or vaccine specifically to cure my disease?  Have they found the perfect father for my kids? (That wouldn’t be a surprise) Finally, my head stopped from spinning and my mind quit wondering about stupid assumptions and answered, “I promise.”


“Don’t speak until I'm finished. 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 had to do it, because I was losing you,” then, with tears in her eyes she added, “I’m sorry, I love you too much and I couldn’t live without you. Now you know the motives of my cruel prank. You can do whatever you like with your life, but I wish you decide to spend it with me. Never leave me honey. Oh, happy birthday.”


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 flooded with joy; my soul couldn’t hold so much happiness. 


Then I remembered my visit to the 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. I barely remember about the little conversation 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. That was the last thing I heard . . .  




Edmundo Barraza
Visalia, Ca. Aug-7-2011



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