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When Tears Are All That's Left

Death, why don?t you come to me now?

By Gloria Pimentel
Published on LatinoLA: October 4, 2004


When Tears Are All That's Left


It is seven-thirty in the morning. The sun?s rays playfully sneak through the hospital room?s half open curtains. Mother is holding what is left of my once beautiful body in a tight embrace. Like the razor sharp blade of a carving knife, my sobs pierce her heart. Twenty minutes ago, before Mother arrived from the chapel where she had been praying for a miracle, Dr. Lee?s words stripped away all hope from me.

Shaking convulsively, in a broken voice, I hear myself scream, ?I don?t want to die, Mom! Please help me!? I hug her desperately, hanging on to her strong body, ?Please Mom, don?t let me die!?

I feel the prick of a needle in my upper arm and listen to Mother?s voice, ?Iris, everything is going to be okay. I have been praying and I know He is going to spare you.? She says it with such conviction that I know Dr. Lee has not spoken to her.

The medication begins to take effect. Brain and body succumb. Mother rests my limp body on the bed and the light dims inside my head. Medication can?t control my spirit though; it rises from the condemned body, alights off from the bed and moves toward the window. The pale hand releases the latch and the window opens; a weightless form, wearing my face, floats out of the room and rides on a beam of light.

It travels across the city, until it arrives at the High School, from which I graduated. Swiftly, it enters Mr. Peterson?s classroom. Laura, my best friend is standing by the window. I become aware that I?m re-living a scene that occurred ten months before.

?Iris,? she calls my name in a stern voice. I look up into her eyes and find strong disapproval. ?You didn?t eat lunch again.?

?I wasn?t hungry, I had a big breakfast,? is my reply.

?Who do you think you?re fooling??

?Laura, don?t nag! Please? Look, it is enough to have to deal with this class,? I wrinkled my nose. ?I hate Biology, and I hate this diet that I?m on. I wish I was dead and didn?t have to deal with any of this nonsense.?

?Iris, watch your tongue, words are powerful and wishes do come true.?

?There goes the voice of doom again,? I tell Laura, picking up my books.

Laura couldn?t understand what it was like to live in a huge body like mine. She had a great figure, while I hauled around 280 pounds of flesh. That is, until I went to see Dr. Simmons. His regime was simple, an injection to melt the fat twice a week and a diet of two protein drinks a day plus a sensible lunch.

I was thrilled when I lost eighty pounds and met Larry my fianc?. Six months prior to graduation, I proudly wore my diamond ring. Life was good and I couldn?t be happier. We agreed to marry two months after graduation. I had exactly eight months to get into the size six bridal gown that my heart was set on.

I would achieve my goal in no time by cutting breakfast, having one of the drinks for lunch and ignoring dinner.

The day Laura bravely asked me, ?Who do you think you?re fooling?? My answer should have been, ?Only myself.?

I was the only one who refused to acknowledge the deep, dark circles around my eyes. Sleep evaded me and I was a nervous wreck. I blamed all of these things on the stress
graduation and my impending nuptials brought about.

Eight months later, I walked down the aisle wearing a size six designer dress that fitted my slim body like a glove. The spark of pride that I saw in my fianc??s eyes made
all those sleepless nights, fueled by hunger pangs, worthwhile.

Laura?s last words at the airport were, ?Promise me that you will see a doctor when you get back from your honeymoon."

?Why?? I said. ?I feel great. Stop worrying about me.? I pulled her toward me and we hugged.

The memories blur. I feel hot tears burning the sallow skin under my eyes as my spirit re-enters my body. With it, the unbearable pain returns. The effect of the morphine wears off quick. I won?t ring the nurse. Instead, I?ll allow the tears to run free and continue reminiscing.

I remember how Larry and I were so much in love. We spent two unforgettable weeks in Hawaii. Six weeks after we returned, I got my first dizzy spell. I didn?t tell him. I suspected I was pregnant and decided to see the doctor on my own and surprise everybody.

The first available appointment was in ten days. I prayed that I could keep the news to myself. Two days after I set up the appointment, I had two more dizzy spells. They were so bad that my legs crumpled and I collapsed. Luckily, I was only badly bruised on my right arm and leg.

Larry noticed the bruises at dinnertime. ?What happened to you?? He asked, holding my arm tenderly. ?I tripped at work and fell.? He kissed the bruise and told me to be more careful. I sighed with relief. I wasn?t up to a sermon. A nagging headache had been my companion all day. Twice, I had to seek refuge in the bathroom with a nose bleed.

On the seventh day before my appointment, I was removing a roast from the oven, when dizziness blurred my vision and I fell. My head hit the oven door on my way down. Larry came running; I could hear his voice, far, far away. ?Iris, are you okay, honey? What happened? Answer me!?

I awoke in the emergency ward, with a bandage on my head, an IV in my right arm, and a very worried husband sitting across from me.

?What happened?? I asked, looking at Larry.

?You blacked out and fell,? Larry told me. ?The doctor asked about dizzy spells. I didn?t know what to tell him,? my husband said, puzzled.

?It was my first one,? I lied.

Unfortunately for me, blood tests don?t lie and that afternoon while my husband held my hand, I was diagnosed with Leukemia in the last and most dangerous stage. Dr. Lee told us that I was young and science was very advanced.

Today, when my dearest Larry comes to see me after work, I will have to tell him and Mom that I will be going home to die.

Dr. Lee explained that due to the weakened condition of my body, science is unable to help me. Any treatment given to me will kill me instantly. My defenses have been depleted by starvation. The platelets, white cells, blood and bone marrow count is highly abnormal, the illness has taken over.

He couldn?t lie. It is his obligation to let me know that I have little time left. It is important that I go home and spend this precious time with my family. A nurse will come to see me three times a day and will be on call 24 hours, should I need her.

I?m thankful to Dr. Lee for allowing me to be the one to tell my family. It?ll be very hard to tell Mom and Dad, but even more painful to tell Larry.

What about Laura? Oh dear Lord, how am I going to face my dearest friend?

I don?t want to think anymore. My body feels as if it is on fire and my head throbs mercilessly. I?m so thirsty?

Death, why don?t you come to me now? Spare me the real pain of dying reflected in my loved one?s eyes--the desperation that awaits the man that only eight weeks ago promised to love me forever. Yes Death, it?s true that I summoned you before. I have dared destiny, but could you bend the game?s rules, just a little?

?What?s wrong with her, why is she crying?? My mother?s voice interrupts my thoughts.

?She is in a lot of pain,? a nurse answers. ?Are you her mother??

?Yes.?

?I?m Ella, the nurse that will be going home with your daughter.?

?Home? Why?? I can hear the anguish in my mother?s voice.

?She wants to spend her last days with her family.? The nurse answered.

?Are you saying that my daughter is going to die?? Mother?s voice sounds raspy.

The nurse looked at my mother intrigued, ?I thought? You knew.?

?No! No!?

Deafening screams ricochet through the room. Intense pain fuses into my very soul and spreads through me like a forest fire.

Death, you have dealt the cards and, obviously in this high stakes game, you hold all the aces.

? By Gloria Pimentel










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