The Living Death of Mary Beth

Dying is the loneliest task of your life,
because in the end,
you have to do It alone.

No one can do It for you
and no one can make It go away,
but sometimes,
someone can make It
a little more bearable.

She was beautiful once
Was it just last year that
they found out about It

No one ever says the word.

Their eyes scream It
and their voices hide It
and she wants to stand up and yell
It! at the top of her lungs
knowing It would just come out a whisper

If she could even stand
If she could even fucking stand...

Six months ago,
the Chemo took the last of her beautiful hair -
about the same time vomiting took the last of her curves.

Sometimes throwing up was the worst part
but that was before It got really bad -
now she can't even describe the worst part

And the word they can't say has changed
It's changed and she never even learned to spell It!

Leukemia? Spell check fixed it for her.

They say It's a child's disease
the thought brings the tears again
the horror is enough for an adult

The thought of children bearing It
is almost more than she can stand -
but bear It they do

And with dignity most people never dream of
she sees them every day - bravely hopeful,
crying when the pain becomes too much to bear

So now she can spell It,
problem solved -
now that It
is no longer what is killing her

Wonder if spell check can do the same for dying?
That's what their eyes scream now
When they can stand to look at her at all

So she sits at her pc all day
and tells wonderful living lies
about jobs and families and lovers

She remembers when this was all true -
when she was still alive
but Its all over now but the dying -
and she doesn't even dread It anymore

She just wants the pain to stop -
She just wants everything to stop
And she hopes that somewhere
someone will remember something she said -
something she did - someone, somewhere

Hey I'm still here,
every day starts with the same litany
I woke up, I'm still here, therefore,
I will still be here tonight - until I go to sleep

I've always known It would come at night,
this visit I dread and anticipate
with pathetic eagerness -
this visit from Death

I feel him there, all day, looking over my shoulder
I smell his fetid breathe every time I inhale
Or is that me?

I know I have the smell of death on me now
I see It in their faces when they try to kiss me
and they always do, when they come looking apprehensive

And when they leave, looking relieved - duty done until next week,
they would come more often they assure me,
but It tires me so and they hate to see me so pale

I'm dying you fucking idiots!

I'm pale because my blood is poisoning me
I would get some sun so as not to worry you so much
but the medication doesn't allow bright sunlight

So I'm sorry -
I hate to have you see me like this,
wan, apathetic - and excuse me
for making you feel bad
because you are still alive

I don't want to be that way,
I promised I wouldn't,
I swore I wouldn't but this dying,
It does something to your mind...
when you get to the point that your mind is all you have left

It gets frisky, jumping around from thought
to thought, with mad glee, refusing to be reined in,
no matter how you try

No matter how hard you try...
very funny, of course I mean
No matter how hard I try

I'm the one dying not silly of me,
wanting to make It a group thing
Even for a moment,
so that maybe it wouldn't be so lonely

Of course I have lots of company, don't worry about me,
this is a hospice after all we are all here for the same reason

We aren't really a social bunch though
We don't play a lot of cards - hard to care who wins
or loses...

I guess we could read each other's fortunes,
or check our horoscopes - but we are already
pretty sure what's in store for us...

The fortune cookie was right:
A tall dark stranger in my future...

I wish he would gargle before we meet

That breath is so bad...
I wonder if he will kiss me when he arrives...
I wonder...

But now the hour is late and I'm tired...
just wanted to tell you I'm still alive
time is running out and I have things to say -
though I don't remember them much of the time

I'm awake less and less lately,
but it's hard to tell the difference

She's here again now,
I wish I could remember who she is
She's the lady with long hair and sad eyes
She's here sometimes when I wake up, holding my hand
Looking at me like she is hoping to find an answer
and half the time I don't even remember the questions

She doesn't work here, I know them all...
Soft hands bathes me and changes the i.v's,
she smells of cheap perfume and hard work,
the stink of defeat permeates her body,
causing me to wish her life were a little easier

The guy with an accent turns me - hoping
to prevent bedsores I'm sure - and
he does something with my legs -

No nothing like that - he must think
I'm going to suddenly wake up and
want to dance, so he exercises my legs

I think I'll call him Juan....

Juan is in love with me and wants me
to come out dancing with him
He talks to me in his soft gentle voice
and I pretend to be asleep so he will continue.

I think I may love Juan too

In a better world
we would run off to his home in Mexico
and raise fat little brown children
to take care of us in our old age...

Then there is The Bitch....

She berates anyone who happens to be around
telling them everything they are doing is wrong,
I've never heard her say a nice word to anyone,
I pretend to be asleep for her too
but not for the same reason

The lady with the sad eyes...
Who is she?

She isn't one of the criers,
they still come on the weekends most times,
but they just sit and cry and they bore me to tears
I don't shed them or they will know I'm awake
and they might stay longer

God forbid...I'm far past being lonely now,
I just want to tell you something -
before It is all over...

If I could only remember what Itis
I think that is why she's here...
she is my voice,
my connection to life somehow

She's not an angel,
her skirts are way too short
and her eyes are way too sad

She brushes my hair gently back from my forehead
I want to open my eyes and let her see the answers there,
but I'm afraid if I do, she won't come back -
and I'm not ready to say goodbye yet...,

Almost, but not quite there....

When I am, I know she will say the words for me
I just want you all to know that I'm trying so hard to remember,
whatever it is I need to tell you....

I haven't forgotten you...
have you forgotten me?

Mary Beth

© Sue Hess

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