this may or may not be about someone you've never met

black book

The Meaning of Life

My best friend's healthy as an ox mother, collapsed from a stroke yesterday morning while readying for a swim at their lake house. My best friend just called me from the hospital to tell me her mom wasn't going to make it and that it was good to hear a voice besides a family member's and that the doctors said its the worst stroke they've ever seen and asked if they'd like to keep her on the oxygen tank or donate her organs.

I joked, bemused, "they couldn't wait a day to ask?" She got off shortly after and I sat on my mom's comfy red rocking chair looking down at the world from our porch at our second home, waiting for a squirrel to come gather nuts for supper or spring.

I apologized to her for not having something smart or better to say, since the best I could come up with, was "try not to shut down; I know that's easier said than done, but I'm here, always, whenever you need me." She knows it's true and for that I'm grateful but I just want to teleport to the hospital, to her and to hug her and to have some magical spell to be able to cure her mom and fix it all so when I tell my best friend 'everything is going to be okay,' I can really mean it. But I can't. I can't save her mom, I can't make everything okay. All I can do is listen and be a shoulder and pretend to have something wise and learning to say once in a while. And even that seems useless and somehow egotistical. After all, that's her mom, lying there, connected to tubes and a tank. That's not just some sick woman, that's my best friend's mom, that without, my best friend, our memories, our intersecting lives wouldn't exist. This woman that's fallen in love and broken hearts and plates and her hymen and squeezed out a boy and three beautiful girls and nursed them to be wonderful, thoughtful, careful, caring, truly lovely individuals, body is, for some reason, betraying her, and failing, without even a hope for a proper goodbye. Everything they've been working on their whole lives together, from breathing and walking and crying and cooking and fucking and feeding cats and babies and parties and doing whatever else people do, is ending, it's over, the deal is breaking; making this woman, this life, this precious wonderful life, involuntarily motionless, breathless and will-less. And now all that separates her from this world and the next is no longer her will, but a socket. They say we're human, but in the end we end up hooked up to machines. And now, my best friend's mom is hooked up to something she'd never want to rely on. To something they really have no control over, especially if the power were to go out; just a stupid little fucking button & socket.

I picture her shriveling like a raisin in hospital robes and every time my best friend blinks her mom shrinks a little more. I wish there was no fucking button, no fucking decision, that she would just keep shriveling and shriveling every time my best friend blinks, until she disappears into thin air, and we can keep her alive by believing she decided to fly off. But I can't do that either. All I have are my stupid little words and a lumpy shoulder and all she'll have is her dad, half-brother, two sisters, and the memory of squeezing this button that means the difference between life and death. 

Micaela Silberstein