When I didn’t know if he was to live or die, he kept appearing to me.
Not flat on his back in a hospital bed attached to alarming machinery, with snaking lines, twisted together like translucent spaghetti, connecting him to countless, beeping IV pumps. My brain could not accept. I was in a familiar place. A place I knew intimately. A place where one must act quickly, quickly.
I’d been there so many times. So many times.
But not in this way. Not in this way. Not when I could do nothing but sit. Sit and interpret all that was said. All that was not said. I heard those words the loudest. The ones not said.
And to muffle the sound of those unspoken words, the vision would come. I would see him standing in that way of his, one long leg forward, shoulders hunched in just a tad, shoulders wide from years of surfing. His hands by his side, one thumb caught in a pant’s pocket, the tilt of his head with that smile on his face, like he knew, he knew the sight he presented.
He would appear at all hours, day and night. When I least expected it, he’d be there. And I would compare the man in my vision to the man in the bed and my brain would recoil. No, that was not him. Not him.
The him in the bed was unrecognizable. I didn’t know that person. I’d never met him before. He was a stranger, and yet, a stranger that belonged to me.
I didn’t know who the man in the bed would be when he woke up.
Or if he’d ever wake up.
If he’d ever stand.
Stand in that way.
Knowing who he was.
Who we were.
And so I welcomed the man, the man in my vision.
For he seemed to be there to deliver a message.
“I’m still in here.”
And that gave me peace.