Being Alive


Chapter One
Chapter Two

"My deepest belief is that to live as if we're dying can set us free." - Anne Lamott

The walls are white.
The chairs are orange.
Orange pleather.
It smells of dulled mint, a combination of stale breath and menthol, like a piece of saliva-soaked floss that's been dragged between rows and rows of teeth.  All the magazines on the table are dog-eared and wrinkled.  There's a tear in the orange pleather where the foam stuffing struggles to escape.
It smells sick, and this is wrong.  So wrong, because everyone here is supposed to be getting better.
They can't be getting better.  Not with the smell and the wrinkled magazines and the torn pleather with the rebel foam.  Everything in the room screams of age, of years and years of entrapment within four walls.
White walls.
He gulps, and he can feel the walls closing in on him as he focuses on the sterile click of nurse's heels against the tiled floor and the swish of linen lab coats and the distant strains of a slamming door.
The word tastes as bitter to his tired mind as the stale air of the waiting room, and he hates that he walked out of the doctor's office.
He hates that he walked out on her.
God, some husband I am.
He couldn't stay in there, though.  The words were all running together, jargon that he'd heard over the years in news reports about fallen celebrities and statistics that he'd read in the occasional People article about the medical profession.  Jargon like chemotherapy, malignancy, radiation treatment, and tumor.  Words that seem dramatic and glamorous and beautifully tragic until some doctor is rattling them off rapidly in a room with way too much white.
Words he never expected to associate with his life, because he doesn't get sick.
She does, though.  She does, and orange pleather is about to become a regular part of his life, and he hates that.  Hates that.
She'd been so calm.
She's too good for you.
"Honey?  Are you ready to go home?"
Her voice is soft and even, and he looks up into her deep set blue eyes, sees no sign of tears, and hates himself even more for all the tears he wants to cry on her behalf and can't.  All he can think is that his life--their life--has been whitewashed.
Like the walls.
His own voice sounds foreign to his ears.  Rough-edged, hard and loud against the click and the swish and the distant slam.  He swallows forcefully and takes her hand in his, stroking her knuckles gently with the pad of his thumb.
"Are...are you okay?"
"Just fine."
She smiles warmly, and it's the most beautiful thing he's ever seen.

quotation above taken from the book Bird by Bird