Nine weeks ago, my friend Alan went to the doctor for the second time with symptoms of numbness in the left side of his body and a dropped foot. The doctor, who had previously said he wasn’t worried, now sent him to the hospital for an MRI. Alan has been there ever since.
The images showed a mass in his brain, and a few days later biopsy confirmed it to be a malignant tumor. The biopsy also caused bleeding in the brain, resulting in paralysis of his left side and a variety of other effects, some of them rather strange. For his three weeks in the ICU, I didn’t know if I would ever have a real conversation with him again, and I knew I couldn’t go see him. He lives far away. This is one of the frightful things about being sick I hadn’t experienced yet: not being able to be with somebody you love who’s sick.
In place of traveling I sent him audio recordings of myself almost every day. Then he was released from the ICU and took up the phone again—a kind of resurrection experience for me. We’ve talked most days in the six weeks since. These two months have been a complicated, hard, draining, beautiful.
I feel content with what has been possible for me, honored to have been intimately involved, and a little trepidatious about what I can manage longer-term. Alan will be released from the hospital this week after having had six weeks of radiation, chemotherapy, and acute rehab. The rehab continues; otherwise, none of us really knows quite what is next. I’m hoping now to resume posting regularly here.
Here’s a poem by Alan, from I about a year and a half ago:
That days like fall leaves
fall, yet do not accumulate--
nor yield decrease--
their number at all
can only then
be one and one
and one and one.
For more of his poetry you can go to http://magnoliapresscollective.com/Emily.html.