Months To Years Spring 2018 Months To Years Spring 2018 - Page 21

Cinco de Mayo By Jeanne Omans Was this what they called a death rattle?  The sound he to get him some water.  Makes sense, I thought, he must made as he was breathing was a curious sound, unlike be dehydrated.  I noticed then the peculiar sound that his anything I’d ever heard before (or since), somewhere breathing made.  I thought—death rattle?  Is this the end?   between a gurgle and a rasp, kind of sharp and harsh, It had been years and years of illness and doctors, but rhythmic with his breathing.  And I wondered:  death always he came back, always the recovery.  After the hip rattle?  When I heard it, I wasn’t afraid.  I was detached, break, getting back on his feet again.  Learning to walk curious.  Had his time really come? again after the stroke.  Always the pattern: catastrophe, then recovery.  Cheating death, Dr. Lyon called it. My husband Al had been vomiting for days now, dark-looking stuff, brown like coffee.  Dr. Lyon held off This cycle of illness didn’t fit the pattern of Al’s earlier life.  sending him to the hospital, and Al didn’t want to go any- He was a rare physical specimen, all right, handsome with how.  “Don’t do that to me,” he demanded in a hard voice a shock of dark hair and dark eyes.  His tall swimmer’s that contained a plea within it.  Because he’d had his fill of body brought him championship trophies in college com- hospitals over the last fifteen years.  The aortic aneurysm, petitions.  His gifts were intellectual too.  A Ph.D. in English the stroke, a broken hip, and now the colon cancer.  This led to his career as a university professor.  His collection of litany of afflictions started right after his retirement.  Still, books overflowed the shelves in our study.   I had been Al’s ever the stoic, he came back from each one.  Dr. Lyon said student in one of his summer classes that I enrolled in for he’d “cheated death” more than once. additional credits.  I was a teacher too, 34 years old to his 52.  Soon I became Al’s partner, then wife, then caregiver, So now he was vomiting and we didn’t know if it was the witness to his suffering and struggle and strength that flu or if it was somehow related to the cancer or something made him rise each time like Lazarus from the grave. else entirely.  But he knew he wanted to be home—no hospital, please. Still half asleep, I dragged myself from the warmth      of the bed covers and trotted to the bathroom for the In our bedroom, during the darkness of the late-night water.  Al was not sleeping well; he seemed too sick, too hours, Al turned to me, lying beside him and asked me uncomfortable.  He welcomed me back to the bed and 21