The hospital room had little particles of dust flying around especially when the sunlight came though the one window beside my bed. It was my first time in the hospital since I had my son almost 15 years ago. I stared at the blank blinding white walls. They were too white and too bright. I hated hospital walls. At least when I had my son, Jake, the walls in the maternity room were an off yellowish color. My eyes darted from the walls to my husband, Kent. Kent gently grabbed my limp hand and held on to it tightly. His grasp was a little too tight and reminded me of the tightness when I offered to take his hand on our second date at the skating rink. Kent lied and said he knew how to skate. When I offered to hold his hand he held on so tightly I thought he was going to break it. His face looked worried. His glasses were off. He always took his glasses off when something was wrong. My throat felt tense. I turned my head and looked at my left arm. All of a sudden it hurt. The IV that had punctured my veins was hurting badly. I wanted to cry but I couldn’t. I needed to be strong. I willed myself to be strong, crying is for the weak and I am not a weak woman. I kept telling myself that in my mind. Somehow I felt that Kent’s grasp on my hand should be cherished. I made the decision to hold on to him as tightly as I could.
I tried to speak. My mind was asking what was going on and why Kent looked worried. My mouth felt like cotton and I could not speak. I tried again. The words would not escape from my brain to my mouth and out into the air. I wanted to scream but once again I was forced to be silent. My mind raced to the conclusion that this is it. I must be dying. I must be and that is why Kent is looking at me with that look of concern. He knows that I am dying and he can’t seem to find the words to tell me. I never wanted to die in some old hospital. I imagined my death would be in a peaceful dream. The angels would come and get me in my sleep two days after my 99th birthday. Granny lived to be 98 so I think that is a reasonable goal. My mind told me that I could do it. All I had to do was live right. I do eat right. I have not eaten meat in two years and I drink lots of water and even do yoga. But, that is all a waste now since I am probably dying. Dying at the age of 50. Jake hasn’t even graduated from high school yet and I won’t live to see it. That has to be it. I tried again to force the words from my mouth. What was in my mouth? Some tube? Yep, I will die with a tube in my mouth.
The half eaten bowl of peaches was on a tray in front of Kent. Each of the peaches was swimming in its own little pool of syrup. Kent hates canned peaches and so do I. I guess my last meal will be in a feeding tube. I wonder if you can taste anything with a feeding tube attached to your stomach, or wherever they put it. I wish I could taste those peaches. I would ask the nurse to drain the syrup and I would put a big mountain of whipped cream on top of them and savor each and every one since that would probably be my last meal. I wonder if this is what people on death row think when they are ordering their last meal. Ok, that is crazy. I am not on death row. I am in a hospital with my husband pitifully looking at his dying wife.
A nurse entered the room carrying a tablet in her hand. She looked down at the tablet and typed in some words or numbers and walked towards my bed. Her fiery red hair clashed with her light blue scrubs. I guess this is it. She will get the doctor and the doctor will come in and ask me if I need a minister or priest for last rights. And why is Kent not saying anything? He has not spoken one word since he grabbed my hand. Has he lost his words too? He couldn't have it because he loves to talk. He’s a lawyer for heaven’s sake. Words are his life. I wish he would get that pitiful look off of his face and put his glasses back on. He bragged about those glasses when he first got them. He said that he thought he looked like a younger Denzel Washington wearing them. He thought he looked cool. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that he no way looked like Denzel anybody. I smiled and told him that he looked handsome and cool in his own way. Now, he was sitting there with those stupid glasses in his lap. The end of my story will be looking at Kent with his glasses in his lamp blind as a newborn puppy or something. I have no idea if puppies can see when they are born. Gramps said that they couldn’t see but then again he calls me by my sister’s name so I take what he says with a grain of salt.
The nurse lifted my arm and it felt tight. What was she doing? Oh, she was taking my blood pressure. That’s it. The blood pressure of a dying woman. I tried to glance at her tablet to see how low it was. They say that it is the silent killer or is that stroke? I don’t know. But, this nurse has cold hands. I can feel her cold hands through her latex gloves. She leaves the room after a few more pokes. I know where she is going. She is going to get the doctor. I told Kent that when I died, if I went before him, I didn’t want a big funeral. All I needed was my close friends and family , about 25 people plus the people at my office, okay maybe I do want a big funeral. I had it all planned out in my head. I wish I had written it down. I wish I had told him to bury me in my red and blue dress. I look damn good in that dress. I hope he can find it. Franny will help him. Franny and I have been neighbors and friends for years. She is so nosy I know she will be the first one at the house when he gets the news.
“I’m here, Jenn. I am not going anywhere.” Kent said as he still looked at me pitifully.
Now he wants to say something. I thought he was mute for a minute. But, where else would he be if he loved me right? My mind went to our son. Where was he? What day is it? Maybe he is at school or at his Nana’s house. He shouldn’t be here to watch his beloved mother die. He would probably regret the argument that we had about his curfew before I ended up here but Kurt will tell him not to feel guilty that I would not want that. I can see him in his black suit. The suit I bought for him last year when his aunt Elizabeth died. He hated that suit. He said he didn’t understand why people wore black to funerals and not weddings. I laughed and told him I never understood that either.
My eyes started to water. Am I crying? No, I shouldn’t be crying. I am a strong woman. But, my face was wet. That had to be it. I was crying. Dammit. I felt something soft on my cheek. I turned my head to one side and it was the hand of Kent. He was wiping my tears. I hadn't noticed that he had let go of my hand.
“Don’t cry Jenn. It will be alright.” Kent said.
I wanted to say that I wasn’t crying. It must be the medication that they are pumping into my veins. That was making me cry. I am going to die crying. Do people die crying? Kent was crying too. We were both crying like bawling idiots. A tall man with a white coat and blue scrubs entered the room. He was also carrying a tablet in one hand and in his other hand what looked like a small clipboard. He looked at Kent and then he looked at me. I knew in my head that he was going to tell me that I was dying. I struggled to talk. I wish they would take this dam tube from down my throat so I can talk and tell them I need to go home and die. The doctor mumbled something to Kent I could not hear. But, I knew that he said your wife is dying. My imagination was running wild. How much time do I have? I looked up at the doctor and he shined a light in my eyes and checked my IV arm and scribbled something on the chart in his hand and typed something on the tablet. He looked serious. I wondered if doctors even smiled. Well, this one doesn’t and that was a sign that death was near. I know it. The angels were near.
A nurse came back into the room and I stood over my bed. The tube was taken out of my mouth. Ouch, that hurt. My throat was raw and hurt worse than when I had my tonsils out when I was seven. I sipped some water Kent gave me. Hospital water made me gag. Or was it the straw? I don’t know but I didn’t like drinking from a straw. I never have. I tried to speak again but the words got a little jumbled in my head. I had to stop and think harder.
“Am I dying?” I managed to ask Kent and the doctor.
The doctor and Kent both looked at each other and back at me.
I need a last dance like at my wedding if this is the end. I need to put on my blue dress and dance all night long. They can take me home and let me dance until I die. These men need to answer me. What is taking them so long? Didn’t they hear me? I tried to speak again. My voice was so hoarse I didn’t even recognize it.
“I can…” That was all I could manage to say. I hated the dryness and soreness of my throat.
“Jenn, you aren’t dying. Do you remember what happened?” Kent asked.
I shook my head no. I waited for him to speak again.
The doctor left the room and Kent continued to speak.
“Jenn, you had a mild stroke. I took you to the hospital. But, you aren’t dying. You will be fine.”
I moved my head up and down and tried to move my right hand to give him a thumbs up. I managed to give him a partial thumbs up.
A few days later my throat was better and I told Kent that I thought I was dying. In my head I even saw some angels waiting to take me to the next world. It is bright in the next world is what I told him. Kent laughed and then he said in a deeper voice than normal.
“Jennifer Rose Henderson, you always had a vivid imagination. You know that you aren’t going anywhere until you are 99. At least that is what you keep telling me.”
“Yep, guess I am not dying and it was all in my vivid imagination. Now when can I go home? I need to find my dancing shoes.” Jenn asked as she laughed as hard as she could.