Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Sad Day

I was sitting at the table in the kitchen staring down the darkened hall. Listening for any clue as to what was being said down there. The television was flashing images and they were moving but during the glances that I gave the screen nothing registered. I loved this show. But some how it’s entertainment eluded me. I grabbed the remote, muting it so that I could hear down the hall better. The microwave beeped telling me that the tomato soup in there was ready. But I didn’t think that we were going to be eating it anytime soon. For I had a very good clue as to what was being said down the hall. And by the occasional sniffle my fears were being confirmed more every second. Then he came back down the hall. The worried and tense face that he had born going down the hall was gone. He was half walking half stumbling down the hall towards me. And his eyes were beginning to redden. He was on the verge of tears. I walked up to him not saying a word for I knew that if he wanted me to know the news he would tell me. He took a ragged breath in and said, “H-he’s gone.” In an instant I had my arms around him in an embrace that I would have never let go of if I didn’t have to. But I did, and I looked up at his face.

We had been in the kitchen cooking a lunch of grilled cheese and tomato soup when his mother had informed him that his dearest grandfather had been rushed to the hospital. A look of deep concern came over his face, and he became sullen and brooding. I told myself that it was going to be okay. This happened all the time right? But I didn’t want to voice that in case I was wrong. We finished preparing our meal in a tense silence. Then his father came into the living room adjacent to the kitchen and asked for my worried chef to follow him down into the depressing and dismal hallway to conduct their meeting.

His Grandfather had passed. “He was rushed to the hospital and when they got there his blood pressure just dropped.” he stuttered with half gasping breathes to me. “I knew it was going to happen eventually, he had Parkinson’s.”
I understood. Just because you knew something was coming it didn’t soften the blow at all.
He began to cry; tears traveling down his face. I knew that those were only the first of many tears that would be running down his face that day and for the days to come.
I clung to his large frame trying to hold him up, physically and emotionally. He wasn’t breaking just yet. I knew that. These tears were only tears of shock. It only got worse from here on.

Then he stopped crying. He motioned that we should finish our meal. I just went along with him, opposing him at this point would be the worst thing that I could do. But the soup did nothing for me as I was eating it. I had lost all of my appetite with the grim news. But I feigned hunger for his sake. After he finished eating his soup in silence he got up and began to clean off the table.
He turned to me and said, “I’m going to do the dishes.”
I nodded, “Alright”

So I just sat in my chair swirling my spoon around in my soup; pretending to eat it whenever he glanced at me, which he didn’t.
Then he looked at me and said, “Do you really want to help?”
Of course I did anything to keep this silence from being awkward.
I walked up to the sink and grabbed a towel and a wet pan and began to dry it. We kept this up for a while, him trying not to cry or face reality. I was trying to watch him and make sure that I was there instant that a tear fell from his eye to wrap my arms around him. Every once in a while he would stop scrubbing to stare at the pan. A look on his eyes made me wonder if soap swirls on a pan could give him the answers he was looking for at the moment. Then he looked at me and said, “My dad got this brush for me. Me and my brother went through a faze where we couldn’t stop making lemonade. And there was no way for us to clean it. It was too narrow. So my dad bought me this.” He said this as he waved his wand like brush in the air. “It also works really well for my Guinness glass. It gets cleaner if I do it than if I put it in the dishwasher.”
I nodded in confirmation. He was rambling, doing anything to keep his mind on anything but the dreadful truth.

Then he paused, bracing himself on the sinks edge. I tensed, ready to embrace him if he started to sob. But he didn’t, “He lived through so much,” he said, getting back to doing the dishes in front of him. He was quickly running out of dishes. “He got to see so much, he remembered…” The rest was lost to me because he began to mumble, then he began to speak clearer, “Well, he saw the first African-American man elected to be our president, that was a good thing.”

I smiled and agreed with him. He wasn’t mad about him leaving at least. He was remembering the good times and the great life he had had.
He had also started to cry again. But I knew that he was on a mission to clean all of the dishes, so I didn’t touch him.
Once he finished cleaning, he looked like he needed something to do. But there was nothing left.

Then his father came back into the living room. His eyes were red, but his voice was even. David walked out to see him and talk with him in the living room. This was a personal moment. I just stood in front of the sink with my head hung. Giving the grieving men their privacy and trying to remain invisible as to not disturb them. They said a few words and then embraced. His father made his way down stairs. No doubt to tell his wife. David turned to me then. I noticed that he wasn’t going to hold out much longer. So I went up to him and hugged him. He began to cry almost at once. He didn’t utter a single word. He just cried, letting out an occasional choke. I clung to him whispering that I was there for him and that it was going to be okay.

His crying began to subside once again. He was trying his best to hold it all in and be strong. I knew that his efforts weren’t going to hold out forever. He slowly pulled away from me and wandered around the kitchen looking for things to do. There was nothing. Their house was spotless like always. Then he just leaned his back against the counter top sighing and starting to cry again, but more silent this time. I walked up to him, stood next to him, and put my hand over his. We remained like that for a little while then he grabbed me and pulled me into a hug. I didn’t refuse, he knew what he needed. After a moment if standing like that, he pulled away and looked at me. “I’m going to go down there and talk with my dad for a moment.” I nodded and agreed. He sort of stumbled his way to and down the stairs. The second that he disappeared I walked down into his room. I knew that he would want to go there next, it was more private. So I walked in and proceeded to clean off his bed so that there was nothing that he had to do to collapse onto it. After I finished I sat at the edge of his bed and thought for a moment or to.

This didn’t seem real. I thought about how unfair it was that this had to happen now, when he was so young and getting to be happy with me. I also thought about his face when he came down from the hall. It broke my heart and I struggled to keep the tears from coming to my eyes. I had to be strong. I had to be strong for him. I would cry later, when I was alone, he didn’t need someone to cry with; he needed someone to comfort him. He came into the room. I only knew because he was fairly loud when he walked around the house. He sort of stood in the doorway for a minute. I wiped my eyes and turned to look at him. He looked at me, but it felt like he didn’t even see me, and then he walked over to the bed and just sort of fell onto it. Clambered on to the bed and hugged him before the tears came. But I wasn’t quick enough, they came now. They were thick and heavy and the sight of him being hurt so much made me want to cry but I held that instinct back for him. After his original sobbing began to subside; I drew away and wiped his eyes and kissed his face, telling him that I loved him and that I was here for him.
“I have to be strong for my dad; he is the strong one usually. It is my turn to be the strong one.” I didn’t think that either of them could be any stronger.
“You are so strong. I admire your strength, especially right now.”
He looked at me almost puzzled, “How am I strong?”
“Look at you, you are keeping it together. But at the same time you have great strength by showing this side of you to me.”
He let a small smile come to his lips.
We held each other in silence and thought. I laid flat on my back and looked at the ceiling. I thought about the unfairness of it all and was sad. It was so hard to hold the tears back. A few got through, but I wiped them away as soon as possible so that he would not see them. I turned to look at him and make sure that he didn’t know. He was just staring at the ceiling, tears slowly falling out of his eyes and onto his bed sheets. I began to wipe them gently away from his face. He closed his eyes, as if I was soothing him. I kissed his eyelids and his cheeks and his forehead.
He turned to me and said, “Please don’t ever leave me.”
I almost laughed, “Baby, I could never leave you even if I wanted to.”
“Promise me?”
A small smile came to my lips, “I will never leave you.” I promised, and I meant it with all of my heart.