As I may or may not say to the Lord on Judgment Day, "You ask a lot of questions for someone who has so much explaining to do." ~Robert Brault,
The day had turned dark and a lusty wind was pushing cars around on the slick hot tar roadways of Houston. It was the middle of the day, but cars were already piling up. I glanced in the windows of these vessels making their way to their appointed rounds.
A young man with his seat so far back I couldn’t understand how he was maneuvering the fairways, his hand tap tap tapping on the steering wheel.
Another car – a mother, or caretaker glancing in her rearview mirror seemingly singing as she watched the toddler in the back smearing god knows what on the window.
I watched a trucker, high above us all trying to make his way tentatively thru the mass and I wondered…I wondered how everything could be so ok to them.
What are they thinking? Where are they going? Don’t they know? Don’t they see? Something terrible has entered our lives; it rode in seemingly on a breeze and dug its claws into a bright star, threatening to create a nova that would swallow us up like a black hole.
And like that black hole, we had no idea what was on that event horizon and if any of us would ever be the same.
No one cared. The cars drove by, cigarettes being flicked out of windows, young people reclining so low in their cars you could only see their knuckles banging music without a care. Cell phones to ears, McMuffins to mouths, passengers reading papers. Don’t they know? The world had come to a halt for me and now all that was left was to be extinguished or fall into space. Nothing else seemed possible. I wondered about the dreamers. So safe in thought… The only reason people get lost in thought is because it's unfamiliar territory.
I had just left the hospital where Bootsie’s family met to offer support to her while she underwent invasive surgery to find out exactly what the issue was that made her so sick.
I had stopped to get something to eat, and then drop off a disc of drawings at A&E Reprographics. I was one of their best customers, so it was always personal with them. Pat Gremillion met me going up the stars to the cad department. He tried to engage me in conversation, but immediately recognized I was pre-occupied. He asked if there was anything he could do. I assured him, it was something outside his scope and finished my business and left. It had been 3 hours since I was at the hospital. I thought about calling, but didn’t get the chance.
My cellphone rang:
“Dianne, where are you, I have been trying to call."
Not unusual Mel did this daily from around 11am to 2pm. Not to worry, nothing up with her.
“I was at the hospital” I responded flatly!”
I didn’t have it in me to listen to her complain about her job and coworkers. All that crap seemed so inconsequential because…it is. She always relied on me to give a supportive ear. Well not today. They were all healthy and alive.
“At the hospital ...?” She didn’t sound too awfully concerned.
“Yes, I went to see Bootsie.” Before Mel could get a word in, “She wasn’t lying Mel, she is sick. I think she is very sick”
I explained about Bootsie’s family being there enmass and the operation she was going to undergo. Bootsie had an irregular colonoscopy. Possible colon cancer. Mel tried to impart any knowledge she had on the subject. But the mechanics of it all didn’t quite matter.
Mel wasn’t angry and promised to be home soon.
After I hung up from her, I called the hospital where Bootsie should be getting out of surgery. They forwarded the call directly to her room. She sounded very alert, and happy. Thank goodness. I could finally let out a breath.
“They cancelled my surgery.”
I was actually quite pleased, this sounded like good news. But alas it wasn’t.
They had postponed it for the following day. When I got home I didn’t much feel like working. I wanted to forget everything I just found out, but Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored. I had been on a project that I could complete at home. I made my own hours. But Mel expected a lot from me. I was her wife and she expected me to act as such. She reveled in the fact that she could come home, her cloths washed, and the house clean and meals cooked. But I didn’t much feel like doing anything. I ordered Chinese.
When Mel got home I told her about the postponement. She decided to take the next day off and we would go to the hospital together. That was going to be quite an interesting endeavor.
Two of the cutest dykes in Houston, both lovers of mine, both haters of each other. And I was going to fix all of this.
I had to. It would only be with Mel’s blessing that I could continue being a part of Bootsie’s recovery. I actually felt as positive as a mother rabbit hoping that eagle is carrying her young out of harm’s way. Because I planned on being part of her recovery,.
The day started much as it had ended 12 hours earlier. The rain was abysmal, matching our spirits…well mine at least. Mel and I got up and performed our morning rituals, coffee, morning news, Mel checking her EBay bids, me reading the paper.
We dressed and I cleaned up any messes. We made our way to her black ford truck with the front bumper bashed in from Devon’s use.
We made small talk, but, ironically, said nothing of Bootsie.
Rush hour traffic was beginning to thin, so we made it to the hospital a lot faster than originally planned. We parked the truck and walked across the garage, our footsteps echoing, keys jingling, other visitors and patients alike talking in soft chatter. It felt like the halls were forever and our heels clicking on the parquet tile sounded ominous.
When we got to Bootsie’s room, she lit up at seeing me, but immediately came down upon Mel’s arrival. But it didn’t stop her from scooting over in her hospital bed to make room for me to sit. I ignored her gesture as she padded the mattress and sat in a chair instead, but she was not having it. Mel nodded to me her accordance and I went and sat with Bootsie.
Every word Bootsie said she looked at me and acted as if Mel was not even there. Mel ignored this childish behavior to get answers.
“Hello Bootsie, I hope you don’t mind that I came”.
And again Bootsie responded but wouldn’t look at her. “I understand, you don’t feel Dianne is safe with me”.
I just hung my head, shaking it back and forth with my hand on my brow.
“What time is your surgery” Mel asked.
Bootsie’s family was going to be there around 2 pm since her surgery was scheduled for 2:30. The doctor came in and asked us to leave, but Bootsie asked us to stay. I didn’t understand much anyhow, but, of course, Mel did. They were going to “go in” and do an exploratory to find out what they couldn’t in the “PetScan”. If it were possible to remove the tumors, they would be in the operating room for about three to four hours. If they find they couldn’t do anything, they would close and she would be back in the room in 30 minutes. That was the result we didn’t want. And the surgery was moved up by two hours. The doctor left and Bootsie for the first time looked at Mel…almost a triumphant sort of look. We were going to be her only family, as they took her immediately.
“Are you staying?” She asked Mel, “Is Dianne allowed to stay?”.
“Yes Bootsie we are staying. Dianne is allowed to do anything she wishes (that’s a lie) and if your family arrives, we may leave as a courtesy to them.”
“No” Bootsie demanded “You need to stay, they will understand.”
I don’t think Bootsie took this seriously. To her this was a pretty convenient ploy and she seemed to be willing to go through the motions and withstand a few cuts and stitches to have me stay with her as long as deemed necessary. We agreed to wait in her room for 45 minutes and if we didn’t hear anything, we would know she was in it for the long haul. We would go get something to eat and return.
Mel read, I crocheted a brightly colored blanket, with all the colors of the rainbow, for the upcoming Christmas Songfest Silent Auction. The colors jumped out against the putrid yellows and greens of the room, somehow out of place.
We watched the clock, I was breathing irregularly as Mel informed me. Every second ticked by loudly, ominously. I thought of Bootsie being everywhere I was. It’s curious how one’s thought pattern runs around like mercury – scattered thoughts like droplets then bump into each other and pool into one generalization. A man may be the controller of doubts before lunch and an optimistic believer in the will's freedom after. She was an important facet of the Gay community helping various charities attending all the significant events, the White party and The Dianas. She had a business, Three Dog Bakery, a healthy pet food pantry and Throw a Dog a Bone, a pet dog walking venture.
I thought about her sitting in the rotunda below my building when I didn’t think she knew where I worked. I thought of our first attempt at a life together in her apartment on the corner of Gray and Montrose, the “Worden” building, sadly gone now. I saw her sitting on my closet floor sorting through my shoes, holding them. I could hear the twinkling of the ice as she poured her Dewers. And of course, our first night alone together, making love until dawn.
I am certain Mel had her thoughts also, but they were probably veered toward “Thank God, this woman will be out of my life forever” I was hoping she wouldn’t be that crass, but I have to admit to myself, she definitely is.
After twenty minutes things slowed to almost a standstill and I prayed, Mel holding my hand. Then at 30 minutes I let out a sigh.
Bootsie’s surgery is continuing and so this means she has a chance!
I got up to use the bathroom and while washing my hands I heard voices and shuffling, I hurried out to greet Bootsie’s family and explain what had happened. But it wasn’t her family.
The nurses were shuffling about transferring a patient to the bed next to Bootsie’s and again I had that spike of fear, followed by a feeling of relief.
One of the nurses stopped. “Wrong bed…it’s bed B”.
How heartless was fate? And to put a person through this again and again. My hopes have been raised and dashed in a matter of minutes…I had hopelash.
There she was, asleep in her bed. I gasped and turned to Mel who pulled me as close as a person could without smothering them. We both knew what this meant. The doctor explained that she had been in recovery for the last 20 minutes. They had opened and closed in less than five. The news wasn’t good and it wasn’t going to get better any time soon.
Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can't practice any other virtue consistently... Maya Angelou
So now it was that time…the time for courage, all other dimensions in my life were at a loss.
Beginning of Book
Yes, this is absolutely positively true. If you lived this wouldn't you write about it? Some of the names of characters in this blog are fictitious. This is an account of actual events. Some of the events have been compiled together for the flow of the story. Even when I read my own work, I wonder how it could be so. But if you study your own life and compartmentalize it into less than 200 pages, you would be surprised how interesting it really is!
TRUTH HAS WITNESSES (Dianne Lindsey) This material is the copyright Dianne Schuch Lindsey and cannot be duplicated in any fashion without the express permission of the Author. All rights reserved ©