Finding Their Way Home

Dasha stands in the doorway of the dimly lit hospital room. The heart monitor beeps and an IV drips pain medication into an arm that used to be so muscular. So strong. There he is, her lost love, Mason. Sickness has ravaged his body, yet she still sees the young man he used to be. The one she fell for when she was a girl. How she’s missed those strong arms around her and the way he kissed her tenderly on the temple. Mason could always make her feel special.

She walks to the edge of the bed and gently caresses Mason’s liver spotted hand. He stirs and his eyes flutter open.  Her heart flits and then resumes its regular rhythm. Mason’s eyes are still the same. A vibrant blue that used to make her weak in the knees. Mason smiles and turns his hand over to squeeze hers. It is warm, though a little rough with age.

“Why, hello there,” he croaks.

“Hello back at ya, my handsome devil,”  she responds.

“I’m sorry,”  he says.

“For what? Because you’re dying? It’s all a part of life.  Dasha replies, “not to worry, we’ll find each other sooner in the next life. We’ll love each other there.”

She reaches out and strokes his cheek. Mason leans into the softness of it and feels an intense familiarity, even though they haven’t touched each other in 45 years.

“Know that I would have loved you if I could.”

“Oh honey, we weren’t supposed to, but I’m here now. We’ll catch up while we can. Tell me about your life.”

“Promise to tell me about yours?”, he queries.

“Whatever you want to know, I will be glad to share,” she affirms.

Their conversation progresses and never lags. There are no awkward silences or pregnant pauses. It is merely two old lovers bringing each other up to date. Dasha’s heart swells as Mason speaks fondly of his family. She speaks well of hers, as she crawls up onto the left side of his bed and rests her body against his. She lays her arm across his chest and rubs it gently. Taking special care, knowing that the cancer he has leaves him in constant pain. As he continues to speak, he puts his arm around her and thinks, this is how it should have always been for the two of them.

Mason voices, “I should have loved you. We were meant to be.”

Dasha looks up at him and replies, “No honey, we were meant to land exactly where we did. We were meant to be lovers and parents. But we weren’t meant to be. We reconnected now for a reason. I knew you were sick and I had to come see you. To hold you and feel your touch. I can’t heal you anymore like I did when we were young. It’s time for you to move on. When it’s my time to die though, I will find you and we will be together, forever.”

Mason begins to cry, and she wipes his tears. Dasha doesn’t know if it’s from pain of illness or the ache in his heart. She knows even in his weakened state, he’ll never admit to sadness or physical pain.

“Honey, please don’t cry. You’ll get all stuffed up, your face will swell and I’ll have to tell you that you’re ugly,’ she teases.

“You know you would never call me ugly, because I’m still your blue eyed devil,” he retorts.

“I called you that when we were teenagers and that was a long damn time ago,” she chides.

He gives her an angelic grin and asks, “what the hell happened?  Why didn’t we stay together?”

“You weren’t ready for me, and your adult life began before mine. I wasn’t ready to be with you anyway. I needed stability and security because I’d been hurt enough. Not only by you. There were many others that hurt me. I ended up falling in love with a wonderful man and believe me, we were happy. Our life was a grand adventure, and I’ll never take it back. As you’ll never take back your past; your adventure.”

Mason asks, “Can you ever forgive me for breaking your heart?”

Dasha confirms, “Oh Honey, I forgave you a long time ago. It wasn’t your fault or mine. We were young and stupid.”

“Will you stay with me till the end Love?”

“There is no other place that I would rather be. I’m going to stay here and hold you. Relax those worry lines on your forehead. If you need water or ice chips, I’ll get those for you too. I’ll make sure that pain medication is administered at the right time. I will stay until your last breath is exhaled and your body is at peace. Until your skin cools and we say prayers over you. I will make sure to honor your final wishes for our spouses have passed on before us, and all we have are our children. So yes, I promise to stay.”

Annie, the young nurse on duty walks in on the old couple and she swears Mason looks better than he has in weeks. She’s convinced it’s because of his visitor.

He looks at her and inquires, “What do you want now?”

“Just a blood pressure and temperature check is all,” she says.

“I don’t know why you care since all I’m doing is lying here, dying, ” he responds bitterly.

“Oh Mason, don’t get cranky,” the nurse chides.

Dasha looks at Mason and says, “enough my sweet, give her what she needs.”

As the nurse takes his vitals, Dasha continues to rub Mason’s chest. It took many years for them to come back to each other and she’s not moving, for anything or anyone. Soon Annie takes her leave and closes the door quietly behind her. She stands holding the handle for a moment to clear the lump in her throat and wipe the tears from her eyes. After she composes herself, she continues onto the next patient’s room with a plan to call her husband as soon as she’s finished.

“Are you in pain Mason?”

“A little.”

Dasha leans back, looks into his eyes and queries, “do you need me to move out of your bed?”

“Absolutely not,”  he says as he wraps his arm more tightly around her.

Mason presses the button on the pain pump attached to the IV. Dilaudid quickly courses through his bloodstream. He places the push-button control on the table next to the bed and puts the back of his hand to Dasha’s cheek. They lay there in the quiet and stare into each others eyes. Soon, his lids grow heavy from medication and Dasha reaches up with her right hand to close them. Mason’s breathing becomes even. He snores quietly. She snuggles in tighter to his cancer ravaged body. Knowing that their days are numbered, she already misses his warmth. Dasha falls asleep next to her blue-eyed devil knowing that she is finally where she’s supposed to be, and so is he. For they have always been trying to find their way home.

Regrets Collect Like Old Friends

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My loves the results are in. Everything came back negative. I’m going to be okay. Thanks for all the love. The sweet words. For everything. Now onto my theme song from one of the women I most admire. Shake it out baby. Shake it out…..

Regrets collect like old friends
Here to relive your darkest moments
I can see no way, I can see no way
And all of the ghouls come out to play
And every demon wants his pound of flesh
But I like to keep some things to myself
I like to keep my issues drawn
It’s always darkest before the dawn

And I’ve been a fool and I’ve been blind
I can never leave the past behind
I can see no way, I can see no way
I’m always dragging that horse around
And our love is pastured such a mournful sound
Tonight I’m gonna bury that horse in the ground
So I like to keep my issues drawn
But it’s always darkest before the dawn

Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh woaaah
Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh woaaaah
And it’s hard to dance with a devil on your back
So shake him off, oh woah

I am done with my graceless heart
So tonight I’m gonna cut it out and then restart
Cause I like to keep my issues drawn
It’s always darkest before the dawn

Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh woaaah
Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh woaaah
And it’s hard to dance with a devil on your back
So shake him off, oh woah
And it’s hard to dance with a devil on your back so shake him off

And given half the chance would I take any of it back
It’s a fine romance but its left me so undone
It’s always darkest before the dawn

Oh woah, oh woah…

And I’m damned if I do and I’m damned if I don’t
So here’s to drinks in the dark at the end of my road
And I’m ready to suffer and I’m ready to hope
It’s a shot in the dark and right at my throat
Cause looking for heaven, found the devil in me
Looking for heaven, found the devil in me
Well what the hell I’m gonna let it happen to me

Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh woaaah
Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh woaaah
And it’s hard to dance with a devil on your back
So shake him off, oh woah

Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh woaaah
Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh woaaah
And it’s hard to dance with a devil on your back
So shake him off, oh woah

She Wishes She Was a Dancer, And That She’d Never Heard of Cancer

I was planning on revising an erotic story for posting today. Wouldn’t you know one word would change my whole day and perspective. My erotic post is abandoned. In its place is a little story about a colleague of mine.

She walked into my office and shut the door. We often have private conversations in my office, so I wasn’t surprised that she closed my door. See, she and I have both been on the same path in the last two years. We’ve been sharing our stories of weight loss. About our reinvention of self. We’ve shared highs and lows. Happiness and anger. Laughed about the attention bestowed on us by men and women. Today though, she stood in front of me and said, “I have breast cancer.” I froze. I I then went to her, and hugged her. Told her I was sorry. She’s a strong one though. She said, “I’m not going to let this define me, Renee.” I smiled and told her, “You shouldn’t. Cancer is not the sum of who you are.”

She shared that her oncologist told her she is Stage 2A. She needs a lumpectomy and radiation. She will most likely not have to have chemo, but will be on Tamoxifen for the next five years. I had her tell me the rest of the story. How she found it herself and made sure that after a week of self breast exams, she called her doctor and they got her right in for a mammogram. The radiologist called the doctor in during the mammogram. They found a shadow under a cyst. A biopsy was done almost immediately and the next day she was informed she had a malignancy.

I watched her as she told me the story. She had such grace. She was so calm. She told me that as she’s been informing people that she’s had to comfort them. She was not upset by this. The whole time she spoke to me, she had this aura about her. This incredible lightness. She said, “Renee, the oncologist informed me that women that go through a significant weight loss are at a greater risk of breast cancer.” I looked at her stupefied and said, “How can this be? We’ve regained our health. How???” She said, “It’s something about our bodies, though they are stronger, healthier. They can become weak too.”

I’m telling you I wanted to leave work and go pick up a cheesecake. Just wanted to say, fuck it! Instead, I went home and changed into my gym clothes. Roger Darling and I headed to the gym. We worked out and then came home to eat a healthy dinner. I’m really thankful Roger Darling likes to feel me up a lot. I have yearly mammograms. And I make sure that I do a monthly self-exam. I’m thankful that my last test was normal. I’m thankful that though my colleague has been diagnosed with cancer, she went to the doctor and it was detected early. I will be her support. I will be strong because she is. And if she walks into my office, closes the door and falls apart. I will hold her till she comes back to herself again.