Bereft

Photograph by Emily Kennedy

A dinner tray is set before me.

Wow…this is it, is it?

Propped up in a hospital bed, against a mound of pillows, life gradually bleeding away from me, and this is what I receive for supper? I am an old woman, to be sure, who smoked incessantly, and quite stubbornly, for years; so perhaps this dinner of pureed fish, vegetables, and potatoes (yes, all blended together in a tantalizing television dinner presentation…would you like some?) are my just rewards. But was my single vice in life – smoking – enough to render my dying days to this, this…

Ah, I’ve lost the word again…

Indeed, not only am I fed this slop (aha, there it is), but the tumors have clustered in the left hemisphere of my brain, and in so doing, have placed tremendous pressure on the area of language production in my cerebral cortex. At least, this is what Dr. Galbraith tells me; I believe the location is called after some Broco, or Broca, or Wernickes gent? Hmm.

My family surrounds me as I gaze at them from my mountain of pillows. I try to speak to them, but the conversation is hardly comprehensible on my end. Bruce, my husband, must translate all my grotesque, incoherent babble to my eldest daughter, and my two granddaughters who have come for a “visit.” Can you empathize? Can you…

And, as though depriving me of my first life passion—speech—were not sufficient enough for these torturous tumors, they have also clamped the lobe in charge of swallowing in an ever tightening vice. Thus, we return to my second pleasure—food—and I am bereft of that as well.

My family tenderly coaxes me to eat my dinner. Bruce peels back the cellophane seal from my pureed entrée, and I suppress the urge to gag. What I wouldn’t give too devour a piping hot plate of succulent roast beef, a hill of garlic mashed, a steaming stack of buttery string beans, and, lastly, the crème du la crème, to savor my final taste of moist, golden brown, Yorkshire pudding, flowing with a stream of gravy about its base. Oh, to have such simple satisfaction…

“Gretta, Gretta, darling, you must eat. You need to keep up your strength for your radiation appointment tomorrow. See, look, it isn’t too bad, and it’s potatoes, you like potatoes!”

I want to bark back at him, “well, you eat it then!” but I can’t.

I comply, and I grudgingly part my lips and allow a substantial portion of slop to enter my awaiting mouth. The texture is creamy, when it ought to be chewy. I merely swallow, when I ought to be able to ground up solid substance, and roll the meat about in my mouth, letting the flavors linger. No, this food is unsatisfying…unsatisfactory…and I am dying…and I am dying…

Wow…this is it, is it?

November 19, 2009 Blueprint Web Administrator No Comments

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