Did Die Essay New Not Selected Some Us

I remember white tile and a hope: Nicole was thirty-four, and the doctor had been direct: "It's everywhere," he said. *** Dane decided to move in around Christmas 2013, on the night our dog died. Nicole had ovarian cancer, which had metastasized to her stomach, and she endured a series of physical insults that, taken individually, would have been shattering; a single trip to the chemo ward, watching what looked like antifreeze flow into her veins while the nurses offered me cheese crackers, would have changed my life forever.

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Only now can I look back on the fullness of our affection; at the time I could see nothing but one wound at a time, a hole the size of a dime, into which I needed to pack a fistful of material. When she finally slept, I would slip out of bed and go into our closet, the most isolated room in the house.

Inside, I would wrap a blanket around my head, stuff it into my mouth, lie down and bury my head in a pile of dirty clothes, and scream.

In a season of butchery and wreckage and defeat, she had triumphed. He had driven from New Orleans—we were living in a small town called Fairhope, Alabama—to stand guard for hours in the hallway outside Nicole's room so that she could sleep. There is no force under heaven as mighty as a band of middle-aged Baptist ladies, and from inside the room we could hear Dane wage a battle of kind intentions. "I'm so sorry." "Well, we came by to pray for them," one of the ladies said. "But I feel pretty sure God can hear you out here in the hall." We spent that Christmas season in the hospital.

Friends came and decorated the room, and our two little girls curled up against Nicole in her hospital bed while she read " 'Twas the Night Before Christmas." We all tried to ignore the clear tube pumping feces up from her bowels and out her nose.

I remember the tile, close to my face, and then watching it retreat as my best friend picked me up from the floor. I think I've hung on to the sensation of the hospital floor and being lifted away from it because it captures everything that followed in the next two years. I do have a few recollections from that year, and Dane appears in each.

Did Die Essay New Not Selected Some Us

His name is Dane Faucheux, and I remember noting, even in the midst of a mental fugue: I was in shock and stayed there a long time. When it happened to my beloved, I lost my footing in more than one way. For instance, when Nicole started finding hair on her pillow, I braced for her agony, because she was so young and so beautiful.His expressions of affection were, for her, tiny victories.So when she held up the photo of him with a Mohawk and laughed—"Look! "—I knew she meant it in the most competitive, gloating way possible. "It was more fun than me just shaving my head bald," he said. Later that year, I remember him standing sentry at the hospital.Her body no longer recognized food as useful and was now expelling it directly out the front of her abdomen, like a foreign substance. "Before this is over," she said, "you will long for it to end." I said.Nicole tried to lift her head and look at her belly. *** For months after Dane moved in, Nicole couldn't eat much, so I fed her intravenously.When he found one, he explained our situation to the veterinarian, and after some testing she blurted, "I'm so sorry, but this dog has cancer and I think she's going to die.Actually, I know she is going to die." And then she burst into tears. I sat in the blinking red and green lights of our hospital room, listened to the news, and offered, "Okay." Gracie's death didn't move me. She was forcing me to have a talk with my daughters that would link cancer and death, and I wasn't prepared yet. We sat on the floor and drank amid the wrapping paper of the girls' Christmas presents.We don't tell each other the truth about dying, as a people. Real dying, regular and mundane dying, is so hard and so ugly that it becomes the worst thing of all: It's grotesque. The tiled floor of life—morals, ethics, even laws—became a shifting and relative thing. But she asked me to meet her in the living room with a towel, scissors, and my beard trimmer. "Give me a Mohawk." Afterward, we stepped into a bathroom so that she could look in a mirror.She dragged a chair into the middle of the room and pulled her hair—long and dark and cascading—into a ponytail. I sawed at it with the scissors until it came free in my hand. She was Creek Indian, and I had never seen her cheekbones so proud, her eyes so defiant. We had met Dane fifteen years earlier, when we all lived in New Orleans and they were in college together."I think maybe I should just move in with you guys," he said."Just to help out for a couple of months." That meant leaving his job, his city, his friends, his apartment, his life. *** We readied ourselves for the physical horrors of death. She told us, "Just don't let me stink." She shed weight, but we expected that.

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