17 May 2013

A plea to a dying friend

I know it's been a long and hard life for you.  For a period of time in your youth you were homeless.  Sure you got food and shelter during that time, but not much love.  People would walk by you and just from how you looked or what you were they rejected you.  So often they'd ask one of the passing caretakers about you, why you were in your condition, what it might take to keep you going, help you thrive, or even to be independent and successful on your own.  I know when I first arrived and saw you I was a bit worried.  You were thin and small.  Your color wasn't what I expected either when people described you to me.  Not that that should ever matter, but somehow it did in your case.  Is that horribly wrong of me?  Did you know one of my best friends had thought about helping you?  She decided you probably wouldn't fit in with the rest of her already crowded house.  So I came by.  I saw your need and longing for a home and a place to belong.  It was a tough decision.  My husband wanted someone who wasn't going to be so needy.  My kids wanted someone who looked and smelled better.  But I saw something there that told me you'd become a very valuable member of our household.

I remember when we put you in the car.  I don't think you'd ever been in one and it jarred you a bit.  I remember how you almost came apart and everyone was worried you'd make a huge mess in there.  You did a little, but I got everything cleaned up and no one was the worse for wear.  After we got home it was a tough call to decide where to settle you.  I suggested the guest room, it only made sense to me.  But my husband was worried what his parents would think when they came to visit.  I said no way to the basement.  It's too dark down there and not a place you put anyone you value and want to help thrive.  We finally agreed on the living room.  It was a lesser used room and still gave you a chance to get the attention you needed and to be part of our every day life.  The first year or so were rocky. Especially when we went on vacation and hired that teenage neighbor to look in on you and the cat.  She thought it was below her to even say "hi" or to make sure you had enough food or company.  When we got back you looked so depressed and almost worse than when we first got you.  I stayed in your room for hours each day for a week after that.  Do you remember how I'd groom you and fed you little bits here and there?  I didn't want to give you too much food too fast and have you get sick from over-eating.  After just that one week I swore you looked brighter and better than ever before.  Everyone else was skeptical and thought I was being generous and optimistic.  But slowly you improved.

When we finished the addition over the garage we were able to create a fourth bedroom, so we moved you into it.  Then you really thrived!  Being in a larger space seemed to help you.  Even the kids started to hang out in there.  I heard them telling you about their problems, just as I did.  You always have been such a great listener and never tell anyone our secrets.  Even my husband would stop in and say "hi" and chat a bit.  I think he felt awkward though, given what you are and all.  You were thriving so well and on your own almost too.  We hardly had to care for you aside from the occasional food.  Granted you were still bothered by the cat from time to time when she got bored.  And we learned that you really were bothered by any bugs that got in or by the wind if we left the windows open during a storm.  You and my youngest bonded over those.  You really were thriving and had become such a part of our family.

That's why it bothers me so much to see you like this.  I don't want you to die this way.  You've shrunk again, you're color's gone down and I can see signs that you haven't been grooming well.  My husband thinks I should just let you go like yesterday's garbage.  My eldest is starting to compare you to a weed.  My youngest says you never smelled good to her.  I had a specialist come look at you.  You've grown just enough that I can't carry you to appointments.  You were pretty out of it and probably never noticed them examining you.  They'd never heard of a case like yours and didn't quite know what to suggest.  They gave me a prescription to see if that would help your appetite.  We thought you might be malnourished again.  But it's been a month and it doesn't seem to be helping at all.  I've spent time crying over you and trying to find a solution.  You've become such a friend!  You've kept me company while I work on my writing.  You've listened over and over again when I rehearsed lines for plays.  You really have brightened up my life.

I've got one more possible solution to try and I hope and pray it works.  A friend from college said that since you had spent so much time living outdoors that maybe the four walls were stifling you.  That maybe you miss being outside all the time.  I have noticed how, when you've spent time outside, you seem to perk up.  But I've worried about the cold and you.  But, I've made room in the back yard by clearing out some things we didn't want anyways.  It's sheltered from the strongest of winds and I've got pest repellents up.  I think the bats from the bat box will take care of most of them anyways. So they shouldn't get too close to you.  It isn't right next to my room, I know.  But I'll still come out and chat with you. And you'll get to hang out with us when the girls play outside or when I work elsewhere in the yard.  You'll be right near the deck when we have parties too.  It'll give you more space to set your roots deeper and wider than the space you're in now.  I promise I'll bring you water and food when nature doesn't provide enough.  I'll weed your area first so that you don't get crowded.  But please my dear friend and my special plant, don't die.

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