"So how's your brother doing?"
The jaw tightens. The lips get licked. My brain tries to figure out how exactly to tell people what his condition is without making them think in the back of their minds, "Holy shit. Why the fuck is she drinking Jack and Coke when her brother is in such a state?
First I evaluate how I know this person. Is it a co-worker? Is it an aquaintance? Is it a person who found out about what's going on from another person but really does want to know how everything is going because, well, they truly care? Is this someone that could handle seeing me cry if for some reason I suddenly tear up? If I do cry will they never ask me again?
After that analyzation is finished, I usually try to figure out a way to not let my report affect me. It's hard to talk about. It's hard to think about. It's hard because I think about it all the time. It's hard to talk about because I want to talk about it all the time. But I can't. I can't just bring it up to someone.
"Hey, I know that we were just having a conversation about Dress Barn being a horrible name for a clothery, but do you mind if I tell you how fucking shitty I've been in the last couple of weeks?"
To be honest, I haven't been fucking shitty. Part of me feels guilty for it, but that part is quickly beaten into submission by the other part that knows that I have to keep going. I have to go to work. I have to do theater. I have to have fun. I can't sit and feel sad and mope and moan about this low point in my life. I can't let myself slip into a mournful coma.
He's the one in the coma. I'm awake. It's okay to be awake.
But it does affect me. I feel my general mood switch to an automatic drive when I have to answer the question. I can feel my brain go directly to the fact catalogue and spew out the facts of what's going on. It doesn't once touch on any sort of emotion because I'd loose it. If the questions were rephrased to say, "So how are you doing with all of this?" I'd start crying and snotting on myself.
I am sad. I am angry. I want to talk to him. I want to hold him. I want to know that he's able to communicate. I want to know what he's been thinking the last couple of weeks.
"So how's your brother doing?"
Well. He's stable. He's been stable for the last month and a half now. They're still making some adjustments to his treatment and small steps towards getting him better. He hasn't been awake for the last 6 weeks. They've sedated him into a coma because then he doesn't try to take out the tube that's in his throat that pumps air into his lungs to help him breathe. He's on dialysis as well, but they've been weening him off lately since it seems his kidneys are actually processing the dozens of medications that he gets daily. He's got a feeding tube now. They're concerned about his weight. They've been doing physical therapy with him, too since he hasn't been awake in so long and his muscle mass is getting weak. They have special boots made for him so that his feet don't limp foward because his legs have gotten weak. Ummm. Other than that, the doctors say that everything seems to be going in the right direction and we're just kind of going with the flow.
"Wow. I'm sorry."
Well, shit. It's all part of life. It's all part of what happens. What doesn't kill you will only make you stronger, right?
"Yeah. I guess so."
Yeah. So. Why the hell would they name a place Dress Barn? Sounds like a place to take a cow for prom shopping.
Last night I called his room. I spoke with the new stepmother and she said that they're going to probably take him off the venilator in the next couple of days. I can't get my hopes up because this same news was delivered a couple of weeks back and the result was disappointing.
"I just can't wait to talk to him. I don't even care if he doesn't say any words. I just need to hear a groan or something to know he knows I'm there."
"Well, Leroy. Everytime you call, we tell him. He opens his eyes sometimes when we let him know that you've called."
He opens his eyes when I call.
Just typing that line makes me weepy with a sad joy.
Soon I'll be up there. I'll be able to touch his legs and scratch his bald head and whisper stupid things into his ears that make him smile. I won't be able to do it too often, though as I don't want to make him use up precious energy on smiling.
But it will be so good to see him. Only three more weeks.