He texted if it was a good time to call. It was so I walked to the car for privacy and called. I don’t know how many years it’s been since I’ve heard his voice. It sounded the same. I used to hear his e-mail voice regularly and that eventually turned into his text voice. They’re all the same.
We talked about life. We never talk about that kind of stuff. Our text exchanges only ever involve the moon, dreams, and erotic picture exchanges.
His wife almost died last year. Her name’s Monroe. I had forgotten that detail. In the course of one week it was discovered she had some rare disease, went on life support, was expected to die, and survived. Only one in some ridiculously high number of people contract the disease in the first place and it’s a rare day that anyone survives it.
Everyone was amazed.
He considered himself a caretaker all last year and wondered if the higher powers were challenging him in some way…in a way that involved testing his ability to survive “payback.”
Prior to getting sick, Olas and Monroe and were on the verge of getting divorced. The only reason they were married was because she had become pregnant and marriage was society’s the resolution at the time. Never did they share anything other than that child…and another one eventually…and a house, but never a home.
He was sitting in ICU, where two people in nearby rooms had just died, and his daughter came in. “Is this a nightmare, Suzy? I mean, this has to be a dream, right? This can’t possibly be reality.”
“No, dad. It’s reality. This is real.”
It was real that he was already making plans for the funeral of a woman he had never loved. It was real that he had children and grandchildren who expected him to keep complete composure during this time of confusion and stress. It was real that Monroe had been home for a split second before she collapsed and died…and he resuscitated her and didn’t tell anyone except for the nurse who recommended to not do that again. “This isn’t something anyone wants to survive.”
And suddenly the car become very warm and I opened the door and asked myself the same question I ask myself every year: Would I save him if he became very ill?
I guess I asked it aloud.
“You would do what’s right.”