I'm writing this on Saturday morning. Looking back over the last three days is dizzying. It feels so much longer. So much has happened!
I was having a lovely lunch with my former art director at a restaurant I'd never visited before. Now I'm not one of those people who is forever checking her phone. I only took it out of my purse because I wanted to take a picture of our drinks. Mine was called Purple Reign (lavender vodka, pear, honey and lemon) and was so pretty.
But that's when I saw the text.
Patrick, who spends the winter in Key West with Reg and Henry, let me know that my darling Henry had been airlifted to Miami. He took a nap and then could not be awakened. His breathing was shallow, his pulse was faint, and there was blood around his mouth. The paramedics suspected a brain aneurysm, beyond the care that the local hospital can provide.
This was December 14. My travel plans had me taking off for Key West in 8 days. I was counting on seeing Henry for his 60th birthday on 12/22. I have spent every Christmas with him for a decade. Considering how his condition is deteriorating, I'm not at all confident he will even know me next year, so seeing him this year, giving him a hug, was very important to me.
But his birthday was only 8 days away! He wasn't even in Key West, he was in Miami. Henry's recent hospitalizations -- and they are becoming more and more frequent -- have lasted more than a week each time. What condition would he be in? Would he even know me? Would his husband Reg want me underfoot while dealing with possible recovery after brain surgery?
I heard nothing from Reg directly. For 48 hours. I couldn't imagine why experts in Miami couldn't diagnose my friend! What was wrong? Had Henry lost the ability to speak (my biggest fear)? Was Henry frightened, all alone in Miami?
Reg had been posting on Facebook all this time. About how chaotic his life is. How alone he feels without his husband. How he wishes he could reach a branch to keep him from drowning in this quicksand. I know Reg finds the comments he receives ("You're a saint!" "We love you!") very satisfying, but I was frustrated and scared. There was nothing about HENRY! How is Henry? I figured the doctors were still perplexed by Henry's condition. Otherwise Reg would let me know what's going on, or at least post something on Facebook.
I didn't want to bother Reg at this trying time but I did keep reaching out to Patrick. After all, he's living right there in their home. Patrick answered me regularly and promptly, explaining that he didn't know anything either. Patrick and Reg worked different schedules, and Reg wasn't answering Patrick's texts, so he assumed there was no news to report.
No diagnosis. No treatment plan. Not even any word on whether dangerous surgery would be required.
I regretfully cancelled my trip. Why be in Key West if Henry is hospitalized in Miami? Also, if I waited, I'd lose not only the deposit on my hotel room,* I'd forfeit what I spent on the non-stop Christmas-week airline ticket.
I cannot afford to waste that kind of money. I am unemployed. I have prodigious dental bills on the horizon. My cat Connie needs dental work, as well.
I cried over this. I am trying to reconcile myself to the fact that now I may never see Henry again, because with the rate of his decline, he may not remember me much longer.
I reached out to my niece and nephew. I told them while I'll be around this year for Christmas, I'd still like to celebrate with them early. It would mean a great deal to me if we could raise a glass to Henry on 12/22, his 60th birthday. They were both sweet about it.
Now here's the plot twist. There is nothing severe about Henry's condition. The paramedics misdiagnosed a seizure as a stroke (they erred on the side of caution and I don't blame them). The hospital in Miami calibrated his meds and have been calling Reg to come get him. He's going to be fine.
It would have been nice if Reg had shared this with me. Or Patrick. Or any one of his 500 friends on Facebook. But no, he blathered about quicksand. OH! He set up a GoFundMe to help with their bills. This he has time to do. (He's asking for $25,000 and has raised $915 to date. I admit $75 is from me, it's money I'd earmarked for Henry's birthday lunch.)
It gets better. Patrick warned me not to call the house. Reg is furious with me. He says I've "given up on Henry" and now he has no one to "hand Henry off to" over Christmas.
First of all, Henry won't be more than momentarily disappointed that I'm not there because Henry is no longer tethered to reality. For example, he thinks his Miami hospital room is his office at the college (where he hasn't taught in years) and he's waiting for Reg to come get him. This trip was more for me, really, than for Henry.
Second, if Reg had shared what he knew Wednesday night/Thursday morning -- which is that the issue was a seizure with no long-term ramifications -- I wouldn't have cancelled my trip on Friday.
Third, Reg has never gotten Henry the care he's needed since the accident in 2018. Henry hasn't gotten regular CAT scans. He hasn't gotten the recommended anger management or occupational therapy. It wasn't until this year that Henry's alcoholism was addressed and he detoxed, which was arduous. So I'd argue that Reg gave up on Henry in a very real way years ago.
So if Reg wants to be angry at me, fine. I've been angry at Reg for quite some time.
Most of all, I miss Henry. I believe he may be lost to me forever. This is so hard for me to accept.
*It's about $225, gone with the wind.