I walked beside you as you were rolled down the hall by the two blue-gowned orderlies. Their expressions were very task-oriented. No one was talking and I couldn’t think of what to say. I wondered what you were thinking. You had all these neat expressions about how you gotta go sometime, about numbers being up, about next best alternatives. I wondered what kind of pep talk you were giving yourself—like all the good advice you’d given us over the years.
This was follow-up surgery, the kind they talk about when the stories are told about the first one not going so well. The doctor gave you pretty bad odds for this go around. Still, you were optimistic. Or something. The family will talk about the one good day you had—with all that new oxygenated blood your semi-fixed heart was pumping. You got on the phone and gave everyone advice. Get married. Have a family. Get a job. Get a new job.
I knew I couldn’t go any further than the double doors looming ahead. You lifted your arm, the one without the needle taped to the inside of your elbow. Then you raised your head and turned toward me. “There’s a dress in my closet,” you said. “A dress. What are you talking about?” I asked. “It has tags on it, you’ll find it. Return it and get the money back. It hasn’t been 30 days,” you said.