Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I handed her the cancer stick, and watched her die

Marianne was born in that house, and will die in that house. She says she has two more weeks to live; she can feel it coming to an end.
I heard this for the first time from her drunk sister; through her tears. Her tears and defensive laughter, as we stand on the porch and thank each other for being such amazing neighbors.
Ive just moved into the neighborhood, and tonight a got a beautiful, and painful gimps of what it will look like to be a loving neighbor to these sisters.

Patty, and Marianne, and their little sister (RIP).

They smoke, get cancer, smoke on their death bed and die.
And I?
I help.
I hold the cancer stick to Marianne's mouth and watch her inhale her lethal love.
I lite the cigarette, take a few drags, taste the glorious death and pass it to her. Except she can't hold it, because she has lost all mobility in her limbs.

The cancer started in her lungs. Then moved to her spine and has slowly been demobilizing her. First her legs. Then her neck. Now her arms.
So I bring the fag to her lips and let her inhale.
I lift her arms up to help her stretch. I bring pop to her mouth to quench her thirst. I adjust her pillow to get rid of the pain, and move her hospital bed so she will stop drowning in her film.
She has lost all her Independence, and so she cries. She cries to the stranger in her house because shes so utterly scared. Scared to death.

Marianne asked me for a shot gun, so she could kill herself tonight.

Smoking has never bothered me before. Good friends of mine have smoked, family, men Ive dated; ones I've loved, and love. Never have I asked them to stop. Its their prerogative. Its their body. And its thier decision. I respect them. I love them. No matter what.

Tonight, while I took a drag of the all too familiar Marlboro Light and put it in a dieing woman's mouth; in front of the sweet 7th grade neighbor; I hesitated.
It bothered me for the first time.
I wanted to lie to her and tell her I couldn't find the lighter. I felt wrong. Confused. I was willingly being apart of a murder. A murder that started decades ago. At this point, I'm not apart of anything that hadn't already happened in full force.
Her body has been taken over already. She will die soon. Im now helping ease the pain. Giving her a taste of a familiar comfort.

You know, it wouldn't have been a lie. I couldn't find the lighter in their cluttered house. So that could have been the end of my conflicted thought.
No. Not for me though.
I went next door, unlocked my new house, grabbed some matches and came back to her in her hospital bed, and I lit one up for her. And we shared a cigarette.
Without regret.
But not without sadness.
Not without questions.

"I wish you had moved in two years ago" She says in a haggared voice.
"Why's that?" I ask.
"Because I would have like to have gotten to know you"
"We have all night, I'm not going anywhere until your sister gets back. Tell me about your self"
and so the hours of conversation began.

I left the house having given a cigarette kiss.
That's coming from a woman that has only ever received them before.

I am so deeply moved that I happened to stumbled upon this evening.
I plan on having many more; nights of truth and cigarette kisses.


J. E. Porter said...

I love you so much.

ally said...

this almost made me cry. your love for this girl is inspiring and an amazing example of what it means to love your neighbor. it makes me want to get out of my comfort zone and begin to see my neighbors as people and not strangers.
thanks again for your fresh outlook on life des

HBM said...

This is the sort of ministry that I'm not sure VUSC's Res Life department would embrace ;) I love it. And you. Beautifully written, and such an expression of your heart.

SteveK said...

WOW, I don't know what to think. In my sanitary, sheltered life I've longed to be that careing, but mostly I don't get involved. I will.