Saturday, February 03, 2024

Pictures worth 1000 words

My dear friend Henry has left the hospital and is now in a nursing home. I don't know where, exactly. I just don't feel up to talking to his husband Reg right now. Especially after what he did this afternoon.

Reg posted current photos of Henry. They are brutal. Half of Henry's head remains shaved. Stitches are still visible. His beard is long and gray. The trach tube is still in his throat. His eyes are unfocused. His head is tilted so far to one side his ear is nearly on his shoulder. There is a tube draining fluid from his other ear.

Henry would hate it if he understood that his vulnerability had been shared with 500+ of Reg's Facebook friends.

But it's clear that Henry would not understand it even if someone were cruel enough to tell him.

Along with the photos, Reg reports that Henry looks at him with contempt and thinks he's alternately Papa and Raymond, Henry's lover who died of AIDS more than 30 years ago. Reg questions how much longer he can remain tied to this "monster."

I hated Reg posting all that because it's ugly. On the other hand, maybe I needed to know it. If Henry cannot recognize/remember his husband, he certainly no longer knows me. This is a reality I must accept.

Henry is gone to me. I get it now.

I miss the rage I used to feel toward Reg.  It was neither kind nor productive, but it was big and identifiable and familiar.

I feel nothing right now. 

I am scared of what I will feel when the numbness wears off and I truly get what this means.