Write On!

Try to Remember

In Uncategorized on November 17, 2011 at 4:25 pm

by Tara Wiley

She spent most of that morning standing up, then sitting down again. A slow, agonizing process, standing up: it would start, oh, an age or so before any action, the thought about it. A glimmer in the back of her mind, like heat lightning during one of those magical Midwestern summers of her childhood, all flash and show without sound or rain. The memory would bring a smile – though only her eyes would show it – as she spent a few moments (hours?) reliving those delicious days.

Back then it didn’t matter if she never moved because she didn’t want to move. She wanted every moment to last forever. Even now, even here, she could feel the rough wool stadium blanket prickling against slender sunkissed limbs, hers and Lisa’s and Remy’s all lined up in a row. They always wore their hair the same way. One summer it was so long, and they braided their hair together when they laid out on the stadium blanket in the back yard until the sun gave way to heat lightning and the fireflies danced hypnotically around them.

Nurse whats-her-name came in while she was thinking about that, and Lily said, “Hair,” and the nurse thought she wanted something done with her hair. The nurse was busy, always busy, always moving moving moving while Lily sat still still still still. But in this moment (hour? eon?) the nurse was feeling benevolent and a little sentimental. Lily reminded Nurse Melanie of her own grandmother, and Melanie saw one of those antique silver-handled brushes on the dresser and picked it up (how could she know it was just a family heirloom, not one Lily would ever actually USE? Oh, mercy, and Lily couldn’t stop her, couldn’t find the words… how many dust mmm-bugger things are stuck… what was she thinking about?).

Nurse Melanie placed her hand on Lily’s tissue-skin-wrapping-fragile-bone shoulder, and sang a little too brightly, “Why Miss Lily, I would love to brush your hair, what a pleasant idea. Your hair is so lovely, snowy white, it’s like…” her voice trailed off as she stroked dust mites through the birds-nests, trying not to pull so hard that she would jar Miss Lily, who was trying to figure out what it was she was feeling.

“It’s like –”

And then Lily was in the kitchen in Shawnee Mission and what was that ammonia smell? Oh, her mom was giving her her first perm. Bright sunlight filled the kitchen where Lily sat in a sturdy wooden chair, center stage for the big production. Classical music streamed from the stereo in the living room; one must have music, always music (Why was it so quiet here?). Grieg and his mysterious Peer Lint Seat created the soundtrack, Mom humming along as she pulled sections of Lily’s hair around peach-colored thingy-doodles, saturating them with foul scented liquid, making her feel all cold and wet, a dog left in the spring thaw –

“Oh, Miss Lily, now your catheter isn’t working quite right, is it? Let’s fix that why don’t we. I’ll call Roy in to help us move to the bed, okay?” Nurse Melanie bustled out —

And then there Lily was again, thinking again, what was it she was thinking about? Oh, yes, she needed to stand up for some reason, something needed to change, wasn’t right… Heat lightning and perm solution and where was she again?

“It’s like forgetting… you try to move…”

She looked up and saw the cross-stitch on the wall and remembered making it in eighth grade, bunnies all lined up along a fence. Back then she hadn’t thought about the expense and effort her mom made, framing it all herself, cutting a double mat with mauve and sea-foam green. Lovely. Lovely Mom. And one time she framed the words to a favorite song. What was that song?

“It was so easy and the words so sweet…”

She was thinking about standing again, thinking so many muscles had to obey just to stand and where should she begin? With the back, or the foot, or the hips, or what-that-thing-was-called, oh, arm, and then in came Nurse Melanie and Nurse Roy and as they lifted her she began to cry, or was she singing?

“Eeeeeee eeeeeeeeee eet eet eet…”


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