Hovering Awe

We are in an existential freefall.

He lay in murky half-sleep as I stood by his bedside, rubbing lotion into his twisted, sleeping feet. My eyes kept vigil on the readouts of the ventilator, the heart monitor, the oxygen levels of lungs. Maintaining the appearance of someone but drifting through a number of strong realities, I find I am quite a few someones lost in one body. The day before I was a worker bee. Subways, winter chills, the darkness that fell so early every day, the daily grind, the forever feeling of being tired. I was a friend and a lover, a daughter and sister, and a million other things in between.

Today I was simpler. Quieter. Just a girl, keeping watch over a stubborn man stuck painfully inside a broken body. He and I were joined somewhere between each other, outside of ourselves.

His eyes snapped open. He looked around frantically, searching, the touch of my hands on his feet unfelt. I walked around the bed and took hold of his right hand, kneading the dry skin there that barely covered brittle bones beneath.

We locked eyes. He smiled his familiar smile, awkwardly stretching that goofy grin over tubes rising up out of his throat. He closed his eyes and squeezed my hand. His nails dug into me: the urgency of a frightened man. It was impossible to tell if he was falling down, flying up, or floating.

“We’re all dying,” he wrote a few minutes later.

“But not right now,” I answered out loud.