The Wonderful World of Strokes00.01.18 / She disappears for approximately five minutes.
Snap. Crackle. Pop.
The clots slip into position, the barricades go clattering up, the blood hits the wall with a splash and stops, throwing off motes of precious oxygen. On the opposite side, the odd memory starves and dies. A malformed thought halts halfway, then tumbles out backwards. An image inverts and plummets down in a quickening spiral, wings snapped and useless. Self accumulates and dissolves. Where is she then; where does she go; what can I do to find her?
"She is at high risk of major stroke due to these mini-strokes."
The doctor and nurses concur.
Another, then another, then another. Deadly little beads on a string.
And the most surprising thing: All that can be done for a stroke is... nothing.
00.01.19 / She disappears for approximately eight minutes.
00.01.20 / She disappears for approximately three minutes.
00.01.21 / A stroke-free day. The confetti rains down. The crowd lets go a low hum of approval.
Grom's mood is way down low, deep in a pit, almost unreachable.
A feeble grin. The jokes don't work today.
00.01.22 / She disappears for approximately eleven minutes.
00.01.23 / She disappears for approximately three minutes.
00.01.25 / She disappears for approximately two minutes.
00.01.26 / She disappears for approximately five minutes.
00.01.27 / She disappears for approximately eighteen minutes.
As the stroke this day lingers, as I wait for her to come back, I consider that one day she may not come back, as she has been coming back every day, from wherever it is that she goes, from her private nowhere. She is in her own lonely room full of jumbled memories—memories being rearranged against her fading will into something familiar yet totally unrecognizable—diminishing figures stumbling into one another, small bodies bumping off walls, into doors, an occasional elbow shattering a pane of glass, now and then a pair of brows coming together with a crack. Who are these people? Please, get me out of here...
As I wait for her to come back, I consider that one day she may not come back, and this really has me pissed off.
Look, I'm here for as long as she remains PRESENT, and my wife and I love this, you understand? We have already come to require the payoffs as we require food and air, those moments when the constant exhaustion and immeasurable effort and the incessant goddamned hard work come back to us in gentle good-night smiles that pack the warmth of suns, in the purr of an old woman's love, in the things that she tells us:
How can you do all this? she tells us.
I just don't believe you're doing all this, she tells us.
Where are your wings? she tells us.
Oh, you're spoiling me, she tells us.
Her dying days spent here where she belongs.
And the question was put:
Wouldn't you rather she be in a nice nursing home? Wouldn't that be better?
And I say and I say sputtering and I say Wouldn't that be better? you mean less difficult and less inconvenient and less expensive and less a burden and less imposing and less time-consuming and less frightening and less of a cramp in our life-style and less of a hindrance to our plans and less likely to screw up our vacations and less and less and wouldn't it just be fucking LESS?
And the question was put:
Wouldn't you rather she be somewhere where she'd have constant care? Wouldn't that be better?
And I say and I say sputtering and I say Wouldn't that be better? and wouldn't I rather have irritated overworked nurses ignoring her moans of discomfort because they hear these noises all day and she might therefore learn hers are not special by any stretch and wouldn't I rather she eat institutional food cooked with no one in particular in mind and wouldn't I rather she be left in the hands of strangers so she could take a pass on all our caresses and lotioned back-rubs and brisk foot massages and gentle forehead kisses and our daily proclamations of love and love and loving her?
And the question was put:
Wouldn't you rather she be in a place where we could visit her whenever we wanted? Wouldn't that be better?
And again and again I say sputtering and again I say Wouldn't that be better? and wouldn't I rather just wouldn't I rather she be in a place where we could visit her whenever we wanted perhaps twice a week and then perhaps twice a week more or less and then perhaps once a week more or less and then perhaps a night or two a month or a night a month at most more or less and less than that and less and less until? Until?
Who is asking me these questions?
All beg the world to spare them. All beg.
00.01.28 / She disappears for approximately nine minutes.
00.01.29 / Another stroke-free day. The confetti rains down again, a bit thinner this time, a bit less enthusiastic.
The crowd lets go a low hum of acceptance.
00.01.30 / She disappears for approximately six minutes.
While she is down; while she is limp and unresponsive; while her mind sputters and fumes and a few more pieces of her puzzle dissolve into the cold ether, I decide that since All that can be done for a stroke is... nothing, that I will go downstairs to do... something. Time to put away the groceries. As I head downstairs to stack scallions and arrange milk cartons, I am wondering if I might arrange an exchange.
—I'm sorry sir, what is the reason for the return?
Well, I'm tired of these. I'd like to trade them in for a good solid heart attack.
—Well sir, as long as it's of equal or greater value than the strokes...
No. No, the strokes are of NO value, understand? The strokes are like a cheap goddamned whittling tool. I want something that will knock the gal down, do a good solid cutting job: knock her down, kill the roots, and stop the slow dying act. Can you do that? Can you manage something definitive? Can you please stop taking away her Being a branch at a time? Could you please stop forcing me to watch her become less and less and fucking less of who she is by such small barely traceable portions? Her grin becoming slightly more unsure. Her questions an iota more confused. Her lights a milliwatt more dim. Her HER less her. Help me. Please.
—I'm sorry sir...
Right. Right. So am I.
I head downstairs to do... something.
Time to put away the groceries.
Next: Various 1