“Orange you glad I didn’t say banana?”
— the prophet chrysippus
char: I can’t find the words.
me: Don’t worry. I’m sure they’ll turn up somewhere.
She can’t seem to talk. She’s confused. She knows where she is, but she’s not happy about it.
She’s on the phone with me while a nurse is trying to talk with her. “We’re just trying to help you,” the nurse says. “I DON’T WANT TO BE HELPED!” Char exclaims.
It’s impossible to figure out what’s going on. The hospital doesn’t allow visitors in the COVID era. We’re not relatives, so we have no access to medical information. We just call, hoping she’ll answer. She can’t much describe what’s going on. We’re guessing maybe a stroke, or perhaps it’s just too hard to bear the last days of the current administration when your middle finger doesn’t work.
The nurse wants to know who I am. I’m not sure how to answer. Former neighbor? Surrogate son? Co-conspirator? She’s been around so long that she’s a part of our lives, a relationship that needs no label. But that doesn’t fit into the hospital vernacular.
Char comes to the rescue. “He’s my friend,” she says.
I hang up so she can yell at the nurse some more. I worry, because that’s all I can do. I hope she’ll be OK. It’s not often you find someone who’ll go to the track with you and a pumpkin while wearing a banana costume and a race bib. No. 1 indeed. I want to stay around for a long time.
Keep looking for those words, Char. You’ll find them.